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1829 TO 1929 

Nihil obstat 


Censor deputatus 


Vic. Gen. 


die -1° Januarii 1929 


1829 TO 1929 




Essay Index Reprint Series 


First published 1929 
Reprinted 1966 


Introduction ...... 

By His Eminence Cardinal Bourne. vii 

I. Joy in Harvest — A Sequel to the Second 

Spring ..... i 

By MoNSiGNOR William Barry, D.D. 

II. The Catholic Church and the Spiritual 

Life ...... 23 

By The Most Rev. Archbishop Goodier, S.J. 

III. The Catholic Church and Education . 45 

By Sir John Gilbert, K.B.E., K.C.S.G. 

IV. The Catholic Church and Literature . 77 

Bj Algernon Cecil. 

V. The Catholic Church and Science . 103 
By Sir Bertram C. A. Windle, F.R.S., Sc.D., 

VI. The Catholic Church AND Music . 121 

Bj Ernest Oldmeadow. 

VII. Catholics in Public Life . . . 141 

Bj Viscount Fitzalan. 

VIII. Catholics AND Philanthropy . -159 

Bj The Bishop of Brentwood. 

IX. Religious Orders of Men . . .177 
By Abbot Butler. 

X. Religious Communities of Women . 201 

Bj Maud Monahan. 

XI. The Influence of Catholic Laywomen . 223 

By Miss Margaret Fletcher 




XII. Statistical Progress of the Catholic 

Church ..... 243 

By Rev. Herbert Thurston, S.J. 

XIII. The Outlook . . . . .265 

By G. K. Chesterton. 



We enter to-day on the year that will see the centenary 
of Catholic Emancipation. Some months ago it was 
thought that this great event might be suitably com- 
memorated by inviting prominent Catholic writers to set 
down some aspects of the progress which has taken 
place in the Catholic Church in England since the 
momentous date April 13, 1829. I welcomed this 
suggestion, because there are large numbers of Catholics 
who are almost wholly unacquainted with the many 
spheres of Catholic development during the last hundred 
years. There are many more who, while they realise 
that great progress has been made, have never considered 
it in its component details. Then there is the large public 
outside our own body to whom the words " Catholic 
Emancipation " convey no precise idea ; and who, while 
they recognise in a vague way that the Catholic Church 
in England is far more important than it was a hundred 
years ago, have no conception whatever of the far- 
reaching changes which have taken place. Such is the 
origin of this very interesting collection of essays. It is 
evidently neither exhaustive nor exclusive in its survey 
of the progress which it recounts. For instance, the 
essential and fundamental work of the Bishops, whether 
as Vicars Apostolic or united together in the Hierarchy, 
and the subordinate but no less essential and fundamental 



work of the Pastoral Clergy receive no mention : not 
because they are under- valued or disregarded, but because 
they are necessarily taken for granted, for without that 
essential and fundamental and all-pervading influence 
there would be no progress at all. Their work will 
doubtless receive its due measure of appreciation on 
many an occasion this year. 

When we look at these essays as a whole, at once we 
find in them a most striking witness to the never failing 
vitaUty of the Catholic Church, as soon as it is given even 
a limited freedom of expression and expansion. Progress 
is shown in every department of human, spiritual and 
ecclesiastical life one after the other. We are led to 
trace summarily the harvest which was sown and is being 
reaped. With thankfulness to God we watch the growth 
and strengthening of the spiritual life and of that intimate 
personal union with God which is the object of all 
religion. We are shown how now in these years the age- 
long concern of the Church about education — primary, 
secondary, or of university character — has been receiving 
attention in proportion to the means and opportunities 
at our disposal. We are the witnesses of the upspringing 
of the new and definitely CathoHc literature, a thing 
impossible when persecution was hampering all our 
energies, or confining them to strictly pressing needs. 
We see the slow establishing of a Catholic position in the 
world of scientific thought. And, again, in proportion 
to opportunity, we note the spread of interest in religious 
art, whether in music, architecture, or the decorative 
adjuncts to Divine Worsliip. The increase of Catholics 
in number, in education and in influence has gradually 
rendered possible for them fuller participation in public 
life. In this respect Catholics of every social position 



have shown themselves ready and able to stand on equal 
terms, side by side with their fellow-countrymen, in the 
upbuilding and upholding of public interests at home and 
throughout the Empire. Moreover, their names are to 
be found as active workers in every form of philanthropic 
effort. In a more restricted sphere we see the growth and 
spread of the religious life which, though not essential to 
the work of the CathoUc Church in the same way as that 
of the Hierarchy and Pastoral Clergy, is yet invariably 
associated with it as a most valuable helper and support 
wherever the Catholic Church finds freedom. The old 
religious orders which had maintained themselves 
precariously in exile abroad have now flourishing houses 
at home, with churches and monasteries equalling or 
rivalling in many cases the greatest constructions of 
pre-Reformation days ; and the almost innumerable 
societies of more modern foundation are to be found 
scattered over the country, carrying on a work of such 
extent and importance that even the best informed of 
Catholics are hardly fully conscious of them. Our laity, 
too, show themselves ready and able to fill nobly the 
places in public activity which the law no longer denies 
them. If we look at mere statistics, incomplete and 
consequently not fully reliable, yet not erring by exag- 
geration, there is an advance in every direction which 
none can call in question. Thus, whether we survey the 
past in company with the writers of most of these essays, 
or look forward to the new century that lies before us, 
there is on every side ground for hope and for well- 
rooted confidence in the future of the Church in England. 

Francis Cardinal Bourne, 
Archbishop of Westminster. 
January ist, 1929. 



A Sequel to the Second Spring 


A Sequel to the Second Spring 

When John Henry Newman preached his ever- 
memorable Sermon from the pulpit of St. Mary's College, 
Oscott, on July 13, 1852, he was addressing the restored 
English Hierarchy in Council assembled. " The past," 
he said with a deep feeling which thrilled his audience, 
" has returned, the dead lives. The English Church 
was, and the English Church was not, and the English 
Church is once again. This is the portent worthy of a 
cry. It is the coming in of a Second Spring." 

Seventy-six years have gone by since Cardinal Wise- 
man with his suffragans heard this prophecy. How did 
it come to pass ? And in what measure has it turned 
out true ? 

When the saintly Dr. Challoner took charge of that 
pitiful remnant who had been brought so low by the 
Revolution of 1688 and the Penal Laws unrelentingly 
applied, their numbers had fallen short of one hundred 
thousand, perhaps to half so much. They had no 
Hierarchy, no Colleges or Convents at home, and sought 
only the most entire seclusion. The supreme English 
poet of Challoner's early time was Pope, who refused to 
be a Protestant, but in his " Essay on Man " yielded more 
than he should have allowed by a great deal to Boling- 
broke's free-thinking. In 1773, when Alban Butler 
died, the number who had conformed to the Establish- 
ment among families of position was great and seemed 
likely to increase. Yet Challoner did not lose hope. 
" There will be a new people," he said. Whence were 



they to come from ? In Newman's discourse the story 
is not told. But we can trace it now in broad outline, 
and the centre round which it moves is Emancipation. 

In England, then, a handful of titled leaders, with 
perhaps five hundred families of distinction and their 
dependents, counted as " the Catholics," for whom relief 
was humbly sought after 1776, when the American 
Congress had invited them to settle in the United States, 
under a promise of religious freedom. The oppressed 
had found a deliverer. All, however, that Challoner 
and his colleagues ventured to ask was " a free toleration 
of religion in private " ; and Edmund Burke drew up 
for them an exceedingly humble address to the Throne, 
which was graciously accepted. But when the Catholic 
Relief Bill was brought in (May 1778) a " Protestant 
Association " provoked disorder in Edinburgh, and on 
June 2, 1780, the Gordon Riots began a week of anarchy 
in London, the Hke of which it never went through 
before or since. And yet in 1 8 5 0-5 1, on occasion of the 
New Hierarchy, which was repelled as a " Papal Aggres- 
sion," the whole country went into a paroxysm of rage — 
Queen, ParHament, Bishops and Clergy, all stirring up 
the people without regard to what outrages might ensue. 
But on this provocation no Gordon Riots followed, and 
the law forbidding our Bishops to take English titles 
proved to be a dead letter. 

We should, therefore, date Emancipation from 1776, 
when in the graphic phrase of Flood " America shouted 
to liberty," and its echo was heard on both sides of the 
Atlantic ; but loudest in Ireland, where the need was 
greatest. After the Battle of the Boyne, for quite a 
hundred years. Catholics — deprived of their natural 
leaders by the " flight of the wild geese " — sank into 
a stupor which resembled enchantment. There is, in- 
deed, an illustrious Irish eighteenth century, but all its 



outstanding figures are Protestant — Swift, Berkeley, 
Goldsmith, Grattan, Burke, Sheridan. Yet from this 
downtrodden inarticulate folk a leader was to spring 
up, " such as is not given once in a generation " to an 
oppressed people longing for a saviour. The Celts 
have constantly obeyed champions who were not of their 
blood. Parnell was a striking instance, as Napoleon 
from Corsica dominated France. But O'Connell was a 
Celt, a Catholic, in no single quality English ; neither 
did he at any crisis of a long career take England into 
account. He felt abhorrence for the Jacobin whom he 
had seen close at hand in France. He felt as devotedly 
loyal to the House of Brunswick as did Sir Walter Scott ; 
and in both men of such exceptional gifts we feel sur- 
prise at their enthusiasm for a character Hke George IV. 
But while even the principles of America did not shape 
or guide O'Connell, he moved forward in his simplicity 
to a stage beyond 1789 and even 1893. Instead of revo- 
lution he preached and practised agitation. He insisted 
on the peaceful and persevering effort, as it were in open 
Parliament, of a nation determined to secure its rights. 
How to conduct such a movement with success no man 
has ever shown more triumphantly than O'Connell. 
And so he won Emancipation without shedding a single 
drop of blood. 

By means of his Associations, in spite of Government 
efforts to put them down, O'Connell gathered Irish 
Catholics as if in a genuine Parliament, year after year. 
He used violent language, but kept beyond the range of 
prosecution. And when by the Clare Election of 1828 
he, a Catholic, was returned for the House of Commons, 
it became apparent to Sir Robert Peel that the system of 
Penal Laws had been smitten with a fatal blow. Next 
year Emancipation was granted, not magnanimously, 
but in a Bill cumbered with restrictions and still treating 



our Religious Orders as if they were criminal associations. 
However, O'Connell had won the day, and henceforth 
he was called with justice the Liberator. 

What share had EngHsh Catholics in this Revolution 
which was to play so momentous a part during the next 
ninety years at Westminster, affecting the course of 
legislation most intimately ? They had petitioned for it 
annually, as well as given support to measures of Rehef 
brought in, although without success, by men like 
Grattan, Canning and Burdett. Nevertheless, that Eman- 
cipation had been delayed for twenty years — since 1808 — 
by the question of what is known as the Veto ; and here 
we must acloiowledge that an English Bishop, scholar 
and controversialist, John Milner, takes the foremost 
rank, side by side with O'Connell, nor yet unworthily. 

In the " Second Spring " we hear of Milner, who was 
Bishop of the Midlands, and resided at Old Oscott. The 
preacher called him " the champion of God's ark in an 
evil time," he graciously imagines him rapt in vision, and 
beholding the procession of the new Hierarchy as it 
wends its way along the college cloisters — clergy, monks, 
bishops — ^with " a prince of the Church, in the royal dye 
of empire and of martyrdom, a pledge to us from Rome 
of Rome's unwearied love," closing the scene. 

But Newman, who perhaps went so far as to term 
Milner the " English Athanasius," did not enlarge upon 
the achievement which we owe to this rugged champion 
of our cause, without which Emancipation would have 
been merely a fresh disguise of slavery. What did the 
word " Veto " imply ? It meant the claim put forward 
by England's Prime Minister to disallow the appoint- 
ment of any Catholic Bishop unless he were agreeable to 
the Crown, in plain terms to the party in power. Still 
worse would have been the Exequatur — a Royal licence 
without which no Papal document was to be published 



in these Kingdoms. But on such terms, as more than 
one statesman hinted, the concurrent endowment of 
several Churches, including the Roman Catholic, might 
become law. From this point of view. Emancipation 
would leave the recognised principles of Church and 
State intact. 

So thought many among English Catholics ; so Milner 
did at first. He foresaw indeed and loudly affirmed that 
Catholic Ireland would win political and therefore 
religious freedom ; but when he consulted the Irish 
Bishops in 1807 he found them willing to grant a Veto, 
while men like Archbishop Troy would probably have 
welcomed an Establishment analogous to that which the 
Holy See tolerated in Lutheran Prussia. The tragedy 
and glory of Milner's life moved round this earlier -adhe- 
sion to what would have been a fatal policy, followed by 
his conversion and repentance when he found it out, and 
his life-long heroic struggle against its consequences. 

For the Irish people would not hear of a liberation so 
devised ; they clung to their Bishops' freedom as the 
last shred of independence, which, in fact, it was. Ireland 
had kept up the Hierarchy derived from Rome when 
English Catholics by a deplorable misfortune lost it. 
And now at their people's voice the Bishops rejected 
State endowments, declined to grant any Veto whatso- 
ever, would give no security beyond the oath of allegiance, 
and threw themselves, as they had always done, on the 
generosity of the faithful. 

Milner had misread his own character, which was 
made for resistance, not for compromise. He now with- 
drew from the position he had first adopted, became the 
resolute opponent of all bargaining with Government, 
and by years of protest in London defeated every measure 
that would imperil our freedom. O'Connell shared 
Milner's convictions, which Burke had long ago 



anticipated; the Irish Bishops recognised in this great 
English prelate the " unwearied champion " of their 
common faith. Acting as their agent in London, while 
the English Catholic Board and those excellent men the 
Vicars Apostolic were attempting to revive an anachron- 
ism, Milner came like Benjamin Franklin from a new 
world, to teach the old what was meant by freedom. 

He did not live to see Catholic Emancipation carried. 
But largely by his heroic stand O'Connell was able to 
demand it without conditions or sacrifice of democratic 
principles. Oaths against " Popery " and guarantees 
imposed by mere politicians had lost their significance. 
" A Bishop," said Milner, " is either loyal or not loyal," 
to which Charles James Fox might have added his own 
doctrine, " Action, not principles, is the concern of 
Government." We have thus reached a working 
formula, in the light of which Emancipation becomes 
much more than a simple expedient and men of diverse 
opinions may dwell together, if not in unity, yet in peace. 

During the twenty years which came between Eman- 
cipation and the Hierarchy in 1850 Ireland still occupied 
or controlled the stage. Consider the Tithe War of 
1832, which my own parents well remembered. It 
was part of a Liberal movement, in which ten of the 
Irish Protestant bishops were suppressed, the Cathedral 
system in England gave way, and the Establishment was 
declared to be in danger. At Oxford in 1833 Keble 
foretold a " National Apostasy," and Newman began the 
Tracts by appeal to Catholic Tradition, the Fathers, and 
Apostolic Succession. Behold where this had brought 
him on July 13, 1852! He was preaching as a convert 
and an Oratorian before Cardinal Wiseman, to whom he 
had given up his sword. 

But how scanty were the numbers of English 
Catholics in 1829 ! Whence might that " new people " 


come, so confidently anticipated by Challoner ? They 
did come, in their thousands, driven by repeated famines 
from the land they loved so well, under a mysterious 
Providence which was scattering them far and wide, not 
only in Great Britain, but in America and Australia, where 
they have since built up churches, schools, convents, and 
given zealous clergy and bishops to new worlds. If 
Catholics in England, Scotland and Wales are now eight 
times as many as in 1840, that is mainly due to the influx 
of Irish emigrants . Carlyle observed it soon, not without 
disquietude. He would rather have beheld the native 
Britons increase and multiply at home than be dispersed 
over new Continents. But still it remains true, as Bishop 
Ward observes, that " this Irish addition to Catholic 
numbers was the most important event in our Church 
annals during the nineteenth century." 

For it found only a remnant, and made of them a 
people. The Irish multitudes flocked into Liverpool 
and Lancashire, they invaded the Midlands, streamed 
into London, sought the centres of industry — ^these 
village-folk who had seldom left home before. They 
required priests, churches, schools. Almost all wage- 
earners, they contributed enough out of their poverty to 
support the clergy who took up this heroic task. And to 
the day passing over us that union of pastors and flocks 
continues unbroken. It has made of the Catholic Church, 
so long hidden away and wellnigh to extinction, a visible 
power of which Westminster Cathedral fronting the 
Abbey is a symbol to London and the British Empire. 

Thus we have been led from the Second Spring to 
joy in Harvest. It was, indeed, as Newman foretold, 
" an English spring, of bright promise and budding 
hopes, yet withal of keen blasts, and cold showers, and 
sudden storms." 

The preacher was a true prophet. As we have been 



taught, " a threefold cord is not quickly broken " ; but 
to bind it at first requires no little sldll. How should 
the old English Catholics, the Oxford converts, and 
the emigrants from Ireland, be united out of Church ? 
Happily, at the start a man of genius, Nicholas Cardinal 
Wiseman, was vouchsafed to them, and while health 
lasted he guided them with success. The pastoral, 
innocently dated " from the Flaminian Gate " might 
have been a blunder, and it excited Protestant England to 
fury against this " Papal Aggression." But Wiseman 
rose to the demand, was candid and convincing, and long 
before he passed away had won the hearts of Englishmen. 

Neither did the Catholic Restoration suffer so much 
as might have been feared, in the long run, from within 
its own borders. Newman and Faber, becoming 
Oratorians of St. Philip Neri, brought a Roman fervour 
into the good old " Garden of the Soul," wliich made 
it blossom like the rose. Both of these, let us remark, 
were of French descent ; so were Manning, Dalgairns, 
Mathurin, and not a few other converts. And Cardinal 
Gasquet's name indicates that he is not entirely English. 

F. W. Faber, a singularly attractive character, who 
died before his time, set up the Oratory in London, 
published books of religious wisdom that became 
popular immediately, and has left a collection of Hymns 
which are sung wherever the English language prevails. 
" The Dream of Gerontius," by Newman, is a masterpiece 
wliich Elgar has set to music. W. G. Ward, editor of 
the Dublin Kevieiv, was a deep metaphysician, who com- 
pletely annihilated the sophisms of Mill and Spencer, 
while his son. Bishop Bernard, judicially narrated the 
history I have thus far summed up, and Wilfrid became 
a leading man of letters, editor of the Dublin Review^ and 
Newman's biographer. 

But our old-time Catholics, whose admirable repre- 



sentative was W. B. UUathorne, held their own, as they 
do to this day. That sailor-bishop, by birth a Yorkshire- 
man, by choice a Benedictine, had made himself a name 
in Australia, where he encountered, and did not a little 
to mitigate, the horrors of the convict-system. The 
English Vicars Apostolic deputed him to represent their 
views in Rome. He carried through the arduous 
negotiations for the Hierarchy, and became first Bishop 
of Birmingham, a See which this remarkable sailor 
and monk, and his chosen successor. Dr. Edward Ilsley, 
occupied from 1850 until 1922 — a period of seventy 
years. Bishop UUathorne's deeply meditated works on 
the rehgious virtues came to be accepted as classics and 
for examinations by the University of Oxford. 

The first public school set up by English Catholics in 
this country despite the Penal Laws was at Sedgley Park, 
near Dudley, in Staffordshire. On its centenary in 1863 
(at which I was present as a student) Bishop UUathorne 
magnified its founder, the Venerable Challoner, in most 
expressive terms. Himself destined to carry on that 
tradition, he, though a simple monk of St. Benedict, 
founded the AustraUan Hierarchy, and was the chief 
agent in restoring its own Bishops to England. He 
became the guide or spiritual director of the Dominican 
nuns, who hold a distinguished rank in that revival 
(going far beyond expectation) of the nursing and 
teaching Sisters, without whom our elementary schools 
could never have been saved all over England. This 
has been perhaps our greatest achievement, for it 
helped to preserve religious education even in schools 
belonging to the Anglican Church. 

A far different, yet scarcely greater prelate, was 
Wiseman, who shed tears of joy while listening to 
Newman on the Second Spring. Irish by descent, 
Spanish by birth, Roman by training, after an early 



education at Ushaw, he held a unique dignity among 
scholars and Church statesmen. Unhappily his health 
gave way during the next few years, but not until 
he had won the esteem and affection of the English 
public, while his journey through Ireland was a triumph. 
Thus it came to pass, in the language of Abbot Butler, 
that " the old stock of English and Irish Catholicism, 
fire-tried in the long years of persecution and penal 
laws, has proved itself the strongest, and has maintained 
itself in its essential characteristics." Other beneficent 
influences call for our gratitude ; but this witness, I 
think, is true. 

Wiseman, who was quite free from envy, promoted 
good wherever he saw it. His hopeful temperament 
suited the demands of a Revival, brought out a spirit of 
enterprise in many directions, and enlarged the shrunken 
Catholic inheritance. He invited to London the Reli- 
gious Orders, old and modern, from Italy. He en- 
couraged Newman to undertake a revised EngUsh version 
of Holy Scripture, which unhappily fell through ; he 
delivered lectures on Shakespeare, wrote the charming 
and unsurpassed " Fabiola," was received with special 
honours in Rome at the great gathering of Bishops in 
1863, and held his own in the Sacred College as if a 
European ambassador. He recognised and promoted 
Manning, who was to succeed him, thus making sure 
that his memorable work should not " pause for 

And it never has done so. Each of the six English 
Cardinals bears a record which will endure of great and 
distinctive ideas realised, with a prospect of more. 
Wiseman was a pioneer. He made St. Philip known to 
Newman, and St. Charles to Manning. He took note of 
Herbert Vaughan. These two succeeded liim, and were 
very unlike. Manning, an Oxford convert, though not 



of Newman's following, might have died rich and first 
of England's peerage, in Lambeth Palace, as Archbishop 
of Canterbury. He chose to die at Westminster, poor 
and ascetic, in frayed garments ; therefore, while living, 
he was the rescuer of London's Catholic children from 
the otherwise " submerged tenth," the advocate of 
Temperance on Christian motives, the arbitrator in the 
Dock Strike, when he won for Labour, as I said then, its 
" Battle of Valmy " and the era of an Industrial Reforma- 
tion according to Pope Leo's doctrine of a " living wage " 
was inaugurated. That Magna Charta, which defined 
the duties and rights of economic justice, owed its incep- 
tion to Manning and Gibbons, although Leo XIII needed 
no counsellor beyond his own sense of pity for the toiling 
millions. But in that truly epoch-making work the 
English and American Cardinals had their full share. 

One point in Manning's policy is now regarded as a 
mistake. He would not allow Catholics to frequent the 
National Universities ; and so for thirty years we were 
shut out from Oxford and Cambridge, when religious 
disabilities no longer existed. The motive was laudable ; 
but experience during another thirty years is a proof that 
our scholars need not fear peril to their religion under 
due care. " This," says Abbot Butler, " is exactly what 
has been done, and in a measure far beyond earlier 
dreams." Wiseman's " grand vision of Catholics enter- 
ing into all the paths of public life " is in course of 
fulfilment. Our monks and nuns attend University 
lectures and take degrees. The Religious Orders have 
their " houses of study " at both Universities and 
Benedictines, Dominicans, Franciscans, Jesuits, form a 
succession at Oxford, so that St. Giles's Street has been 
wittily called " the Roman Road." Thus, to the satisfac- 
tion of all concerned, our University question has been 



Manning, conspicuous in London, appeared still 
more prominent in Rome under Pius IX, though not 
yet a Cardinal. He was a convinced advocate of the 
Temporal Power, and foresaw truly that its disappearance 
would mean the brealdng up of the old order of things. 
But his renown abroad reached its culminating point at 
the Vatican Council. He may almost be termed the 
commander-in-chief of the majority who voted for the 
Decree of July i8, 1870, by which the Pope's inerrancy 
ex cathedra was acknowledged. He came back to refute 
in 1874 his old friend Gladstone's pamphlet against 
" Vaticanism." And in 1879 he was the bearer to Rome 
of Newman's letter in which the recluse of Edgbaston 
accepted the Cardinal's hat. 

All this was unprecedented. That two convert 
clergymen from the Church of England should be ad- 
mitted to the Sacred College, and the nation not ill- 
pleased — ^what a change compared with 1850 ! At last 
Englishmen saw that the former disputes, owing to which 
Tudor sovereigns broke away from St. Peter's Chair, 
had become obsolete. Catholics demanded nothing but 
the common rights of subjects or citizens. And in the 
Lower House of Parliament where, thanks to Ireland, 
they could muster some eighty members, their votes went 
in favour of all that made for justice and humanity. The 
so-called Church of Ireland, concerning which Macaulay 
said there was not its Uke in Christendom, was dis- 
established and partly disendowed by Gladstone, who 
had once maintained that it must be kept up, even if 
Irish Catholics would never accept its teaching. The 
scarcely less unjust and oppressive Land Laws were then 
taken in hand. But a quarter of a century slipped away 
before " landlord wrong " yielded to the wisdom of 
enabling men to purchase on reasonable terms the land 
by which, not without steady toil, they lived. All 



these things were part of a Catholic Restoration, 
and our "joy in harvest " recalls them with deep 

Cardinal Newman, at so great an age, was not 
burdened with official duties. He continued to live as 
hitherto in his Oratorian cell, reissuing the thirty-seven 
volumes which had now become religious classics, and 
acknowledged as a supreme wielder of the English style. 
His poem, " The Dream of Gerontius," is a national 
possession. In 1877 Trinity College, " the one and only 
seat of my affections at Oxford," as he described it, had 
made him an honorary fellow, and he returned thither 
more than once. His last public act was to receive a 
deputation from the Catholic Truth Society, then 
holding their conference at Birmingham in July 1890, 
when he expressed a deep interest in what they were 
doing for the Faith. On August 1 1 he died after two 
days' illness ; and his funeral was a tribute such as 
England had scarcely paid even to Wiseman. 

I have written, in my widely-circulated sketch of this 
incomparable genius, how he showed that " the question 
of Rome is the question of Christianity " ; and that if 
we admit a revelation in the Bible we must come down 
by sure steps to Rome and the Papacy as inheriting what 
the Bible contains. " To demonstrate this," I said, 
" was to make an end of the Reformation, so far as it 
claimed authority from Scripture, or kindred with Christ 
and His Apostles." Therefore, " when Newman arrived 
at this conclusion, and followed it up by submitting to 
Rome, he undid, intellectually speaking, the mischief of 
the last three centuries." He was not simply the voice 
of reaction terrified at scepticism. For his " Develop- 
ment " completes the static truth of Bellarmine and 
Bossuet. It anticipates the laws of evolution years 
before Darwin had caught a glimpse of them. Such as 



this, we may say with grateful hearts, was Newman's 
legacy to England and Christendom. 

His contemporary, rival, critic, admirer, H. E. 
Manning, followed him into the unseen on January 14, 
1892. When Leo XIII heard of the event he said " a 
great light of the Church has gone out." It was true. 
Royal honours attended the obsequies ; better still, 
" behind Bishops and Peers marched solid lines of 
worldng men." They had recognised the friend of 
Labour, who never proved false to it. In that day the 
power which I have celebrated as " the Glory of Toil " 
did homage to its Catholic champion ; and Manning's 
accord with Edmund Burke, in the estimate of true social 
values, would be henceforth a prelude to the long-desired 
Emancipation of our people from economic slavery. 

Another, whom we may style at once Cardinal 
Vaughan, comes to the front. He was the eldest son of 
a numerous family, Welsh and Spanish by descent, all 
devoted to faith and good works. Early in life he had 
jotted down, " mon metier est d'arriver " — " it is my 
business to succeed." To that programme he kept 
through life. Singularly handsome, unaffected, never 
weary of work or travel, he had joined Manning's 
Oblates of St. Charles and begun at Mill Hill a missionary 
enterprise on behalf of which he traversed Spain and 
went, it may be said, all over South America. During 
the Vatican Council he edited the Tablet, becoming to 
the London journals " our mitred contemporary," for 
he was now Bishop of Salford. It has been said by 
Mr. Snead-Cox that the qualities which endeared him to 
friends were " the romance of his character, its tender- 
ness, its strange humility, its utter unworldliness, and its 
high spirituality." For classical studies he had no time 
and little inclination. His training was on the old 
Catholic lines, but as an Oblate of St. Charles he learned 



fresh ideas from Manning. While Bishop of Salford, 
he, in conjunction with Dr. Clifford of Clifton obtained 
from the Holy See in 1881 that historical decision 
(Romanos Pontifices) which by its wisdom and equity 
cleared up the difference between Bishops and Regulars. 

Another great beginning, of which Dr. Vaughan and 
James Britten share the honours, was the " Catholic 
Truth Society." This now celebrated name and the 
policy it carries out with ever-widening success we owe 
to Britten, a convert from Anglicanism, unwearied in 
well-doing and a master in organisation. But it was 
eagerly taken up by the Bishop ; and its modest efforts 
at starting have led on to last year's issue of over 
one million publications from headquarters, opposite 
Westminster Cathedral. 

Herbert Vaughan' s time as leader of the Church in 
England was not lengthy — from April 1892, until June 
1905. But in those eleven years he did many notable 
things, and one which gives him fame in the centuries — 
he began that Cathedral at Westminster on a site pur- 
chased by Cardinal Manning, which was opened, we may 
say, to receive its dead founder. The Byzantine con- 
ception, a stroke of genius, came from the architect, 
Bentley. Neither Gothic nor classic might have dared 
to challenge the Abbey or St. Paul's. But our Cathedral, 
with its never-ceasing Liturgy, its inherited Church music, 
its crowded official celebrations, and its Eucharistic 
Congress, will now bear comparison with any other 
religious centre outside Rome and Lourdes. 

Cardinal Vaughan was of one mind with his predeces- 
sor in barring out Catholics from Oxford and Cambridge. 
But all Manning's devices for a substitute only provoked 
fresh disaster ; and the laity, at once loyal but severely 
tried, expressed their views in an address presented by 
the Duke of Norfolk. It had the happiest effect, as 



already intimated. The Cardinal was only unrelenting 
where he deemed the Faith in danger ; and here safe- 
guards were at hand. When the advance of Modernism 
from crisis to crisis alarmed authority, instances like 
those of Mivart and Tyrrell were distressing, but English 
Catholics left the movement to go its own way, and 
were not interested. Neither was the Archbishop, whose 
energies went to the creation of orphanages, rescue 
Homes, and other counter-checks of sin and suffering. 
His last years, known to us by undesigned but most 
edifying disclosures, reveal (let me say it under sub- 
mission) the lineaments with which we are familiar in 
the Second Nocturn of a Confessor and Bishop. What 
more can be added ? 

I enjoyed the privilege of meeting at Canterbury, on 
occasion of the centenary in 1897 of St. Augustine's 
arrival there thirteen hundred years previously, two men 
who were chosen to play most illustrious parts in the 
near future. One was to be Cardinal Mercier, the other 
Cardinal Bourne. 

Francis Bourne is the son of an English convert 
and an Irish Catholic mother. He was brought up at 
St. Edmund's College, studied for the priesthood at 
St. Sulpice, and was consecrated Bishop on May-day 
1896. Seven years later, in 1903, he succeeded to 
Westminster. Like both his forerunners he had to 
uphold the religious independence of our schools against 
secularist attacks and measures in Parliament. That 
resistance owed no little of its triumph to Archbishop 
Whiteside, backed up by Catholic Lancashire. Another 
influence for good was due to the historical researches 
and winning personality of F. Aidan Gasquet, O.S.B., 
who demolished the slanderous Protestant legend about 
monastic corruption too long current in popular text- 
books. Dom Gasquet, called to Rome by Leo XIII, 


has become during successive reigns a trusted consultor 
of the Holy See. In 191 1 made Cardinal, he is now in 
charge of the revision of St. Jerome's Vulgate and also 
Librarian of the Vatican. While ruling over Downside 
he erected the magnificent Abbey which will stand 
comparison with our grandest architectural efforts in 
the last eighty years. 

No prelate of the twentieth century has wrought 
more at home, or travelled on public missions in East 
and West so widely, or uttered a word in season 
concerning faith and social progress more appositely 
than Cardinal Bourne — ^to give him the title which 
Pius X bestowed on him in 191 1. The world- war 
was at the doors, and presentiments fixed its very date. 
We saw, however, the Eucharistic Congress in London, 
and some agitation stirred up against it by Puritan 
prejudice, but our people's faith and fervour were not 
lost on England. 

One feature of the last thirty-five years was the 
settled policy of Republican Governments in France to 
put down our Holy Religion. Although disestablished, 
the Church enjoyed little freedom. Our monastic 
Orders were suppressed, their possessions confiscated, 
their members driven out to starve or die, and this in 
the name of liberty. Where could they turn for refuge ? 
Exiles of every defeated cause pay England this compli- 
ment ; they cross the Charmel. As at the Revolution, so 
during the Third Republic we gave shelter to monks 
and nuns without stipulations or limit. And in reward 
we have gained many blessings. One most remarkable 
consequence deserves mention here which few of us 
anticipated — ^the growth of convents in England and 
Wales beyond calculation. In 1850 how many were 
there ? I cannot ascertain. The law strictly forbade 
them to exist, and I doubt if they reached threescore. 



Now, the last Catholic Directory enumerates, if I reckon 
aright, eight hundred and sixty-five. These dedicated 
Sisters teach in school and college, nurse in and out 
of hospital, manage Homes of Rescue for fallen and un- 
fallen, write books of spiritual wisdom, live and die 
among the poor of Christ whom they serve. And 
French atheists on their death-beds send for the nuns 
to nurse them who have persisted in keeping their vows 
at home, though proscribed by law. 

Another large Catholic movement was that of 
Temperance, for ever associated with Father Mathew, 
who " gave the pledge to milHons in O'Connell's days." 
When Cardinal Manning reigned, he took up the crusade 
with such vehemence that some were offended, but he 
might well answer, " Is there not a cause ? " Cardinal 
Vaughan held with him in principle. But a successor to 
the mission of Fr. Mathew had been already found in 
Lancashire. This was a secular priest who became 
known and loved in the EngUsh-speaking world as 
" Father Nugent." An unwearied apostle of the for- 
saken and afflicted (born 1822, died 1905) " philanthropist, 
temperance advocate, and social reformer," he set up the 
"League of the Cross" in 1872 as a crusade against the 
abuse of drink and the misery caused by it. " This he 
considered his greatest work," even more than his 
" Refuge for Homeless Boys," which rescued thousands, 
and the launching of the Catholic Times. In 1893 I had 
the honour of representing the League as his delegate at 
the Chicago Exposition. The City of Liverpool gave 
him public honours while living, and on December 8, 
1906, erected near St. George's Hall a bronze statue to 
the " Apostle of Temperance " and " Father of the 

James Nugent had the " Social Problem," as it now 
vexed the eyes and pierced feeling hearts, full in view. 



Manning inspired the decisive Encyclical of Leo XIII, 
which we have termed the Magna Charta of Labour. 
But a movement inaugurated by Karl Marx, essentially 
secularist, was bent on establishing the Absolute State, 
and this our Church, our Religion, never could or would 
acquiesce in. Accordingly, Cardinal Bourne not only 
reiterated the Leonine teaching, but by a bold and happy 
stroke advertised it in all the leading newspapers of 
England. We had taken our stand. 

But Cardinal Manning foresaw that the " dynastic 
era " was passing away, democracy coming in. By 
peace or by war ? Lammas Day, August i, 19 14, gave 
the heart-shaking reply. War called upon us to do our 
duty. Catholics went to all the fronts and their priests 
tended on wounded and dying. At home we gave our 
heartiest welcome to some hundred thousand Belgians. 
Cardinal Bourne was entrusted with a mission by supreme 
authority to the Near East, and travelled from Egypt into 
the State of Serbia, being welcomed everywhere as the 
Holy Father's representative. When the War ended 
the Catholic Church had been revealed to thousands of 
English soldiers. They saw the crucifix hanging un- 
broken amid storms of cannon-shot. And the seamless 
robe of Christ was unrent by schism. Many thousands 
of Catholics fought on both sides, but they did not 
quarrel about creeds. In the Thirty Years' War 
(i 620-1 648) religion was at least a pretext. But from 
1914-1918 autocracy, the absolute divine right of kings, 
did all it could by land, sea and air to annihilate demo- 
cracy. Manning foresaw and said that it could not be 
done. The Church was to flourish amid free peoples. 

Here would be the place to sum up our fortunes and 
policy with regard to the Tractarian Movement when it 
developed into Ritualism. We should also glance at the 
Pre-Raphaelites, who made a return to Cimabue, Giotto, 



and the other early, or primitive religious artists, forever 
associated with Assisi, Padua, the central Italian shrines. 
Of all that is herein significant the literary spokesman was 
John Rusldn, who renounced his early prejudices, did 
honour to St. Francis and has had a large following. 
But the relation of Catholics to art and letters since 1850, 
which gives ample motives for satisfaction, will be 
described in another essay. I conclude my own by 
pointing out the foundation on which the whole of our 
Catholic revival rests. 

It is, of course, a trained, devout, and zealous Clergy, 
under rule and guidance by the Hierarchy. Without 
this. Emancipation would have been of little avail. But 
now, thank God, canonical Seminaries like St. Edmund's, 
Oscott, Upholland, Wonersh, and others, conformably 
to the decrees of Trent, bring up candidates for Holy 
Orders fully prepared. A College like the venerable 
Ushaw keeps its grand tradition, and Sedgley Park grows 
young again at St. Wilfrid's. We have not given up a 
single elementary school, and our great foreign Colleges 
thrive in Rome and elsewhere. Finally, though we no 
longer have the Irish Members at Westminster, Catholic 
Ireland (not, alas, all of it) has become a " Free State." 
In the battle of ideas Ireland, which stands for home, 
liberty, and religious faith, has taken the winning side. 
Something not unlike Repeal has followed upon Eman- 
cipation, and Daniel O'Connell's triumph is assured. 






From the nature of things it cannot be easy to estimate 
the spiritual life of any period, or its influence on the 
individuals who have composed it ; much more difficult 
must it be when that period is virtually our own. For 
the spiritual life is essentially a hidden thing ; it belongs 
to the inner soul of each man and woman who has lived 
it ; its influence must needs, therefore, be hidden, 
however much, here and there, significant signs may 
appear. " The kingdom of heaven is likened to leaven." 
Moreover, when we do recognise the signs, we have no 
gauge by m.eans of which to measure the life beneath ; 
all we can do, in most cases, is to say that such and such 
a thing could never have come about without an intense 
life of the spirit behind it. Lastly, to a very great extent, 
the spiritual life is unconscious of itself. The more it 
knows itself the less, usually, is it spiritual, the more 
unconscious and spontaneous the more true ; and this 
particularly in regard to its ejSFects. The saint seldom 
knows either his own sanctity, or the benefit his sanctity 
has been to others ; often enough they are not recognised 
till years after. What is true of the saint is no less true 
of others who may not be strictly saints ; it is true of a 
whole community. 

Still there are many indications which can scarcely 
be mistaken. When a saint is dead, and men are able to 
survey his life's work as a whole, the perspective is more 
accurate, cause and effect are more clearly connected, it 
is seen that what have been called good and evil may have 



quite other definitions. So it is with periods. " Diligen- 
tibus Deum, omnia cooperantur in bonum." liistory 
and biography have no deeper lesson than this ; the fact 
that so many sufferings and misfortunes have been 
blessings in disguise, not only to those who come after, 
but even to those who have suffered, and who have seen 
in their suffering only failure. This certainly is the lesson 
taught to us, and to all who have eyes to see, by the story 
of the Catholic Church in England during the last four 
hundred years. Others have sown, and have watered 
the ground with their life's blood ; we are reaping, and 
posterity, please God, will reap yet more. 

When we come down to more recent times and study 
the spiritual conditions of a hundred years ago, the first 
thing that must strike us is the utter apathy and lack of 
interest in almost everything religious which had settled 
down upon England previous to that date. The witness 
of all writers is unanimous ; they acknowledge the fact 
and look for its causes. The atheistic philosophers of 
the century preceding had done their work ; reactions 
had set in after the Wesleyan and other revivals ; the 
Church by law established had found herself too com- 
fortable, and had settled down to a life of ease and 
idleness. The French wars were over, and security had 
brought laxer living ; the industrial age had begun, and 
had absorbed all other interests, with its new visions of 
wealth and so-called progress. The universities had 
waned ; religion in them was at a discount. These and 
many more are reasons adduced for the irreligion of the 
time, but that it existed all are agreed. It was not an age 
of opposition ; it was one of utter lack of interest. Men 
did not care about religion, one way or another. 

Indeed, this may be taken without doubt as the 
source of the three great religious movements of the 
time. John Wesley was stirred to act, chiefly, perhaps, 



because he saw the moral results of this apathy ; let 
religion die, so he believed, and corruption must follow. 
The leaders of the Oxford movement saw further still. 
To them it became clear that if religion was to live it 
must rest on something more than mere emotion and 
exhortation ; it must be dogmatic, it must have some- 
thing definite to believe, or in the end it would be 
nothing. Alongside of these, from the opposite camp, 
the very lack of interest in things religious made tolerance 
of religion, of whatever kind, almost a matter of course. 
Of this we have evidence enough in the first supporters 
of Catholic Emancipation in England. An example we 
have in Sydney Smith, who pleaded eloquently and con- 
stantly that Catholics should be free, almost entirely on 
this very ground ; and though on this ground alone we 
might never have succeeded, still that this argument 
should be regularly used is proof enough of the mentality 
of the time. 

There were thus, at the time of Emancipation, and 
for some fifteen years after it, two distinct forces at work 
to mould the spirit and mind of England. The one was 
indifferent, tending to no religious creed, endeavouring 
to build up a moral code on an avowed pagan basis ; the 
other was religious and dogmatic which, the more it 
emphasised its own first principles, found itself becoming 
more and more Catholic. By both sides the tenets of the 
Protestant Reformation were felt to be a hindrance ; by 
both the truth of English history was again being 
illustrated, that with all its outer success the Protestant 
Reformation has never been happy, has always been 
restless in this country. From the first it has been an 
exotic forced upon the land ; and though the English- 
man's law-abiding spirit has allowed it to be imposed 
upon him, nevertheless the same spirit has always made 
him eager to get rid of it. He has altered its shape, its 



teaching, its very name ; to-day he scarcely knows what 
it means. Our Government keeps it, not because it is 
Protestant, for it is not ; it keeps it, on its own avowal, 
merely because it happens to be the law of the land. 

The more, then, England aimed at becoming definitely 
religious, apart from being more moral, the more 
definitely Catholic became its aspirations. This was no 
isolated movement ; the same was going on elsewhere, 
and events in other countries inevitably had their reper- 
cussions here. Already in Germany the Ust was long of 
names that were known throughout Europe of men who 
had submitted themselves and their talents to the service 
of the Catholic Church. There they had no Oxford 
Movement ; the German mind was too logical for that ; 
the leaders who might have made one surrendered without 
reserve. Still more marked was the revival in France. 
The madness of the Revolution was over ; Napoleon was 
gone ; the philosophers had had their day ; the country 
which, in spite of all, had remained Catholic in name 
responded to the call of men who put before it Catholic 
truth in its bare simplicity. France was not entirely 
saved ; but the renewal of its religious life is evidenced 
by the rise and spread of its religious orders, which 
have influenced France and many other countries to 
this day. 

But most impressive of all was the awakening that 
had taken place in Rome itself. Englishmen went there 
in plenty and came away with their perspective altered. 
They had seen the Papacy reduced by Napoleon, as it 
was said, to nothing, a withered antiquity at best ; they 
went to Rome and found it, not only alive, but more 
alive than any other power on the continent of Europe. 
They had been used to hear of it as reactionary ; they 
found it a centre of learning, round which the learning 
of other countries gathered. Its religious influence was 



Spoken of as degenerate, at most a mere display ; they 
could not witness the Roman ceremonial, or listen to 
Roman disputations, or gain admission into Roman 
schools and libraries, without realising that its religious 
power was still a thing of youth, and was reaching out to 
all the world. 

It was under such conditions, and with such 
influences at work about them, that our forefathers of a 
hundred years ago at last crept out of their catacombs. 
Among the many things of the past which we in our 
time find it difficult to visuaHse, few are more difficult 
than the spiritual mind of Catholics in England of only 
a century gone. The winter, indeed, was past, but the 
spring had not yet begun ; and they stood " between 
two worlds, one dead, the other struggling to be born." 
Time had been when their ancestors, with all their 
bloodshedding and loss of estate, had yet hoped on with 
confidence that there would come a change ; this hope, 
among the rank and file at least, had long since perished. 
They did not even think about it any more. There was 
left, and had now for a long time been left, nothing but 
a stolid acquiescence in their fate, as the ostracised class 
who might not serve their country however much they 
would, whose only lot was to stay at home, and live their 
own lives apart, and be faithful to their prayers, waiting 
for another life to bring them the reward of their 

Yet this patient endurance, little though they knew it 
themselves, still less those who lived about them, bore 
its own fruit even here. While, as we have said, religion 
and the effects of religion had sunk to its lowest ebb in 
England, hidden away a new life was stirring which 
needed only its opportunity to appear. While above 
the ground churches were neglected, and prayer had 
become virtually none, here, in isolated places, round an 



old manor or among the poorest dwellings, chapels or 
barns or public-houses were found where masses were 
regularly said, and when they were said they were 
attended by large congregations. To these same con- 
gregations exhortations were given, to the life of faith, 
to the frequentation of the sacraments ; for their benefit 
books were circulated, of prayer, of meditation, of 
instruction, but of little else. In the home, a fact 
scantily recorded, and what records there are threaten 
soon to perish. Catholic life was fervent. Family 
prayers were daily said, in forms handed down from 
their fathers, round the cottage table, at the mother's 
knee, before the cheap statue in the bedroom. Whatever 
the atmosphere in which the toilers had to live and work 
outside, the atmosphere within the home circle was 
intensely Catholic, and the silent years had made it only 
the more intense. Many of us who are old enough, and 
have had the good fortune to be partakers of the inherit- 
ance, will remember the country squires who would 
recite their office day by day, or the poor who would 
never willingly omit their daily Universal Prayer or 
weekly Jesus Psalter, dwelling especially on the petition : 
" Jesus send me here my purgatory." 

Such was the standard of spiritual practice in those 
days. But while this was going on within the spirit 
began to move upon the waters. First, from the con- 
tinent the exiles of centuries already had come home ; 
and they brought with them a faith, a devotion, a power 
of resistance, seasoned not weakened by three centuries 
of persecution and injustice. The colleges and convents 
abroad during all these generations had been steadily fed 
by the youth of England from the families, high and low, 
that had held firm ; in their turn they had sent back their 
children to fight the good fight, often to the shedding of 
their blood. Now, by the Providence of God, they 



found their way back to their own country. They 
brought with them new strength, and encouragement 
and energising faith. All through the years, in spite of 
their exile, they had remained intensely English ; when 
they came home, in spite of their disabilities, there were 
none in England more English than they. 

After these, immediately in their wake, another 
stream soon began to flow. The Revolution in France 
and the many troubled years that followed drove many 
of its best sons and daughters to other lands, and of 
these England received a copious share. They came, 
priests and laymen ; as foreigners they were given 
allowances which somehow could not be given to 
Englishmen. It is one of the paradoxes of the average 
English mind, that while it seems to assume that other 
peoples may, and perhaps should be, Catholic, somehow 
the Englishman must not. These came ; they were 
found to be noble men and women, in many ways 
superior to those who received them. It was noticed 
that they were Catholics, and that before everything 
else ; it began to be said that they were what they were 
because they were Catholics, and that on that account 
they possessed something which Englishmen in general 
had not. When that was said the first breath of spring 
had begun to blow. 

Yet another force from without contributed to the 
awakening, and gave it momentum in a particular 
direction ; the influence from Ireland. We do not 
speak of O'Connell and his stalwarts, who fought the 
fight on the political platform, for that does not concern 
us here. We speak rather of three other courses of the 
stream, on account of which Catholicism in England 
owes to Ireland a debt of undying gratitude. For though 
Emancipation concerned all the British Isles, Ireland no 
less than England, still in Ireland persecution had not, 



as in England, trampled out the faith ; throughout the 
darkest days, and when the awakening came, Ireland 
was able to proclaim her faith and her devotion with no 
uncertain voice. To a great extent, at first, her scholars 
were our spokesmen, her guides were ours, and were the 
guides of many outside the fold. We need only mention 
Russell of Maynooth, the trusted friend of Newman 
long before he entered the Church ; Wiseman, in great 
measure, owed his faith to Ireland. When the great 
immigration came, then, too, the more expansive faith of 
Ireland came over and enlightened ours. Through the 
Irish immigrants alone to this day, and through their 
practice of the faith, many parts of England owe all that 
they know of Catholic life. 

But the influence has not stopped there. Not only 
in politics, not only in the field of scholarship, not only 
by immigration has Ireland materially affected the spiritual 
life of England. From the beginning and still to this 
day. Catholic England has looked to Catholic Ireland for 
much practical help. Religious, priests, bishops — ^with- 
out Irish assistance what would England have done for 
these last hundred years ? What would she do without 
them now ? The Irish Sisters of Charity, the Sisters of 
the Presentation, the Irish Sisters of Mercy, who have 
come over in communities and made here their homes ; 
the individual men and women without number who 
have left their own country that they may help us, the 
families now long settled in the land till they have 
become one with the Catholic body here, all these have 
inevitably given to our spiritual life something of their 
own special colour. And this, perhaps, most in ways 
that the historian least notices. We may smile at the 
Irish Biddy selling her cabbages at the corner of the 
market-place ; but the telling of her beads as she has sat 
behind her stall, and the patience she has shown in her 



poverty, are not the least influence that has told for good 
in the regeneration of England. 

These, then, were some of the ingredients that went 
to the making of our spiritual life in the last hundred 
years. However hidden, these ingredients were strong 
and vigorous ; a fact which soon became evident to 
non-Catholics more than to Catholics themselves. 
Contact with Europe, as we have already seen, which 
since the fall of Napoleon had been increasing every day ; 
a broader understanding of scholarship, which com- 
pelled our scholars to look for their learning elsewhere ; 
a desire to revive a spirit of religion that was wellnigh 
dead ; these brought it home to many that the Catholic 
Church was still the power in Europe, and that, therefore, 
their despised brethren in England could be by no means 
so contemptible. When they emerged from their 
hiding they were more honoured than they knew, more 
observed than they knew, by the more thoughtful of 
their countrymen. In no other sense can we read the 
literature of the last hundred years and to-day, whether 
it be in our favour or bitterly against us. 

But they did not know ; to a very great extent they 
do not know it to-day. Writers on Catholic Emancipa- 
tion speak successively of the bewilderment of Catholics 
when they were first set free. They were like men 
blinded by the light when they have come out of darkness. 
They could not believe in their good fortune ; if they 
believed in it they did not know how to use it ; much less, 
at first, could they believe in or trust those whom cen- 
turies had taught them to look upon as their hereditary 
persecutors. They had grown used to living among 
themselves ; they had developed a solid spirituality, 
stereotyped by time ; they could not at once adapt them- 
selves to their new surroundings. In their hidden 
places they had accepted and practised devotions 



sanctioned by long usage ; they looked with suspicion 
on new things, even on things sometimes from the heart 
of Rome itself. They could neither see nor hear. They 
were content, nay preferred, to practise their religion as 
they had been used, hidden, unobtrusive, certainly with 
no wish to proselytise, or inflict themselves on others ; 
nevertheless with a firmness and fervour of faith that 
could not but win admiration, and even reverence, from 
those who saw. 

Not only could they neither see nor hear ; they were 
also inarticulate. A few defenders of the faith there 
were, some worthy, others less deserving ; these, from 
then till now, from the nature of our circumstances, 
have tended to predominate among our Catholic writers. 
But a mere defender of the faith seldom expresses its 
soul. TertuUian may speak for the Church of the martyrs, 
but for the martyrs themselves we need an Ignatius of 
Antioch ; and the soul of the Catholic Church in 
England, for many years after Emancipation, was unable 
to speak for itself. It had been too long used to keep 
silence ; it was unlearned, an infant not knowing how 
to speak ; its members, for the most part, belonged to 
those sections of society which of all are least able to 
express themselves, the lower middle class and the poor. 
Nor even to tliis day have we wholly overcome this 
trouble ; to a very great extent we are inarticulate still. 

But if Catholic England could not speak for itself, 
first there was sent to it one who was able to give it a 
tongue. Steeped in the spirit of the Church abroad, our 
first Cardinal spoke, not only in defence but also as a 
living voice among his English brethren. Next, thanks 
without a doubt to a striving after Catholic ideals, there 
was brought about a movement which drew into the 
Church many of the best in the land ; and through these 
again, inarticulate Catholic England began to speak. 



They came to it ; they learnt from it. At first tliey drew 
their Catholicism from elsewhere ; but soon they grew 
to know the strong, living faith at their own door, and 
loved it as a thing with an individuality of its own. 
Wiseman, Newman, Faber, Coleridge, Fullerton, Drane 
— this in the spiritual life of England is the chief signi- 
ficance of these names. They spoke for those who 
could not speak for themselves ; they interpreted to them 
their own spiritual lives ; they showed to their fellow 
Catholics how much they were one, in body and in soul, 
with the whole universal Church. 

But if they could not speak they could act ; and very 
soon, with the Hberty given them, the need for action 
was asserted. The Church had become again a living 
thing ; then it must produce fruits of its own. The 
great Catholic institutions, as we have seen, had come 
over, and recruits began to flow in with a regularity and 
increase that spoke volumes for the homes from whict 
they came ; to Ushaw, to Old Hall, to Stonyhurst, to 
Ampleforth and Downside, to Augustinian Canonesses 
and Benedictine nuns. French and Belgian orders 
followed and they, too, flourished, till their homes 
became entirely English. But even with these the 
spirit of CathoHc England and Ireland was not satisfied. 
It formed its own provinces, soon it founded its own 
orders. Who shall say what England, and Ireland, and 
the colonies, and America owe to such great names as 
Margaret Hallahan, Mary Aikenhead, Cornelia Conelly, 
Magdalen Taylor ? In religious vocations alone, multi- 
plied as they have been under most trying circumstances, 
coming alike from the highest and lowest, to the 
priesthood and to convents, we have the amplest proof 
of the strong spiritual life that animated the whole 

In a striking way this was enabled to bear fruit. 



Twenty years after Emancipation the Crimean War broke 
out. A brave woman took it on herself to form a band 
of women who would tend the sick and wounded on the 
battlefield. Some followed her lead, but they were all 
too few. She looked for more ; nowhere was her 
appeal more welcomed and answered than from among 
our Sisters of Mercy. Had she or our Government 
asked for more they would have been forthcoming. The 
nurse upon the battlefield has now become a public 
institution ; let us not forget that her very existence is 
due in no small measure to the nuns who came to the 
help of Florence Nightingale. Without their assistance, 
she tells us very plainly, she could not have carried 
on. Already in them the Catholic community was 
paying back to England a hundredfold for what she had 
granted to it. 

One happy result of this must here be mentioned ; a 
little thing it might appear, but one which has been the 
source of untold good, especially in the poorer quarters 
of our great cities. The nun from this time began to be 
a welcome figure in our streets, and to be honoured, not 
by Catholics only, but by all. Nowhere, we would say, 
is the Sister of Charity more respected than she is in our 
country to-day, nowhere more assisted, or given free 
access wherever she may choose to go. She is protected 
by all, she is helped by all ; in return she gives her 
assistance to whoever may be in need. What tliis has 
meant, not for the sisters, not for us, but for the uplift 
of our downtrodden masses, especially in an age of 
industrial crisis, who shall say ? One thing we may 
justly claim. As the century has gone on, and the oppor- 
tunity to help our suffering fellow-countrymen has grown. 
Catholic institutions, and Catholic communities to serve 
them, have increased out of all proportion, either to our 
numbers or our wealth. Had not the spiritual life of our 



people been strong, this could never have been done ; it 
has supplied where wealth has been wanting. 

Alongside of these have grown and are ever growing 
our schools and churches. In another place it will be 
shown what Catholics have done for the religious 
education, not only of their own, but of the whole com- 
munity ; here it is enough to remind ourselves of the 
spiritual force behind, which alone has made possible the 
continuous sacrifice, and will make victory certain in the 
end. Perhaps in no other way has the strong faith of 
our people more impressed itself on the mind of our 
fellow-countrymen. To those who could pay so dearly 
for their faith, men have argued, that faith must be very 
dear ; and a faith that can become so dear must in itself 
be something very real. In this way has the example of 
our Catholic laity won its respect, and therefore its 
influence, on others. For we have loved education no 
less than they, but we have loved our faith more ; and 
the price we have steadily paid out of our poverty, that 
while keeping the one we might not lose the other, has 
won the respect even of those who have been opposed 
to us. It has done more ; in a generation in which 
irreligion threatened to absorb all our schools, almost 
alone Catholics have fought for the Christianity of 
England and have saved it. In this again they have 
repaid their country for what she has restored to them, 
full measure, flowing over. 

Of our churches, and the life that is in them, and that 
has flowed out from them, what shall we say ? The 
book is open for everyone to read, and many read it ; 
many more, please God, will read it in the near future. 
It is a long cry, though barely seventy years, from 
Newman's picture of non-Catholic ignorance and the 
state of things to-day. Ignorant as many still are, they 
know that the faith of Catholics is a very real thing ; and 



more and more they have come to respect it, to welcome 
its display among them, to feel and know that a proces- 
sion of the Blessed Sacrament is an honour and a blessing 
to the streets through which it moves. More than 
that ; those who are not ignorant have gone further. 
Mistaking the external for the internal, the matter for the 
spirit, they have sought to capture the soul of Catholicism 
by imitation. If imitation is the greatest praise, then 
indeed have the Catholics of England been greatly 
honoured in the last hundred years. 

The Age of Wiseman was an age when foundations 
were laid ; we have seen how God fostered the work, 
once it had begun. The Age of Manning was an age of 
adaptation ; when Catholicism, imagined to be in some 
sense foreign, was found to be English after all. This, 
with its application in particular among the poor, is the 
significance of the age of our second Cardinal Archbishop. 
But with his going it may be said that the new era of true 
life began ; this is the significance of Cardinal Vaughan. 
He was no convert ; he saw the Church wholly from 
within. He was of the old aristocracy that had held the 
faith through all the troubled times ; as such he repre- 
sented that silent but firm core of Catholicism of which 
we have already spoken. His education was not of our 
universities, but such as belonged to Catholics them- 
selves. Yet in him one seems to recognise a vision 
transcending that of either of his predecessors, reaching 
out beyond England, beyond the British Empire, to all 
the world, a vision truly Catholic. 

Already in his early life, in spite of the fact that at 
home missionary priests were sorely needed, by his 
foundation of a society of foreign missionaries he had 
brought the Catholicism of England in line with 
Catholicism abroad. But naturally it is in England, 
within his own province, that we see his spiritual genius 



best portrayed. One with his own people, more literally 
than either of his predecessors, he shared with them, and 
reflected more accurately, their lives and their short- 
comings. Like them he was slow to speak, but in 
action he did much. His addresses and pastorals catch 
the mind of English Catholics and give it back ; simple, 
unadorned, if you will unlearned, but devotional, 
practical, believing in prayer, not only as a proof and 
fosterer of faith, but as a power in the world. Like 
them he had ambitions, all of that kind which spoke of 
a living fire, risen at last from the long-glowing embers. 
The intense increase of schools, for the poor, for every 
class ; the bold opening of the door to our universities ; 
the building of Westminster Cathedral j the encourage- 
ment of every society or organisation which would make 
his people more conscious of themselves ; these are 
some of the signs by which we may learn both him and 
the Catholic spirit of his time. The outward signs : for 
since liis death we have come to know, in addition, the 
inner sanctity which inspired him. And what we know 
to have been true of him, we know to have been true of 
many more heroes of his generation. 

It was before this, but in his time it became more 
systematic, that the movement for the checking of the 
leakage among our poor and worldng classes began. 
The new life had been too much for many ; they had lost 
their way and wandered. Many from Ireland, in the 
struggle for bare existence, had found faith less easy in 
the bewildering atmosphere of England and had failed. 
For such as these, far more than for those outside, the 
missionary spirit now set in, and missions and retreats 
became an intrinsic element in the spiritual life of 
Catholic England. After the schools, for to them and to 
their army of teachers we would give the first place, it is 
to these incessant missions and retreats that we would 



ascribe the saving of the faith of thousands, in a time of 
more subtle crisis than may at first appear. They have 
saved many, they have won back many that were lost ; 
had all been saved, it would be hard to estimate what 
might have been the influence of the Catholic Church on 
England to-day. England, not the Church only, has 
been the loser. 

It may be well here to ask ourselves what, if any, are 
the characteristics which the Catholicity of England, 
either in itself or in distinction from that of other 
countries. In the first place, as we have seen, it has an 
ancestry which has peculiarly marked it with blood, and a 
history which has left it even yet to a great extent silent. 
It has not sought, hitherto, to be noised abroad ; for 
most of the century it has asked only to be left alone, 
enjoying the same liberty and rights as others. But this 
has produced a more intense interior spirit, however 
hidden. For centuries our Catholics had to rely upon 
themselves and their own private loyalty to prayer ; this 
has had lasting effect, notably among our working classes, 
and these are by far the strongest element in the Catholic 
Church in England to-day. It has taught them, too, to 
value the mass and the sacraments, to secure which 
their forefathers paid so great a price. We may doubt 
whether in any country in the world these are more 
esteemed than here ; whether anywhere in the world 
Sunday mass is attended more regularly,or more willingly, 
than here. 

Upon this very solid basis much has been built 
up. First, a wider field in the practice of devotion, at 
first looked upon with fear and suspicion, has now 
been accepted. Though still the EngUsh character, as 
Newman long ago pointed out, has little sympathy with 
many forms of devotion wliich prevail abroad, yet it 
has found place for many which have the more formal 




sanction of the Church. The Sacred Heart, Our Lady, 
many of the modern saints, the Souls in Purgatory, these 
are devotions specially dear to our people ; while the 
marked growth in recent years of processions and similar 
displays, both in our churches and in our streets, the 
ever-swelling pilgrimages to Lourdes, to Rome, to the 
Holy Land, and to less known shrines at home, would 
seem to be full of significance, internal as well as external. 
It is not many years since such manifestations were 
received with scant respect by those outside the fold. 
To-day, almost everywhere, the Catholic procession is 
honoured by almost all, interpreted aright as a proof of 
living faith in at least one community, for which the rest 
are thankful and of wliich they are proud. 

Still even these are not the English Catholic's chief 
characteristic. For that we must revert to much that 
has been already seen ; it is the intensity of his faith. 
Deep down, silent, but undoubted, there it is. " Faith 
of our fathers, holy faith," has not been ringing in his 
ears for centuries for nothing ; no other hymn to-day 
more wins his response. As we have said, he is not 
demonstrative ; he is not always easily aroused to be 
ambitious for religion's sake. He is slow to win others 
to his way of thinldng ; he is content, in his surroundings, 
to live and let live. It is many centuries now since one 
of his nation has been raised to the honours of the altar ; 
the fact does not disturb him in the least. He is satisfied 
that it has produced saints in abundance ; but when the 
thought is suggested of introducing the cause of any 
one of them, he promptly tends to be on the defensive. 
Somehow he looks upon these tilings as non-essential, 
possibly dangerous. He fears that to strain after them 
may lead to untruth, and sham virtue, and vainglory. 
Even miracles, perhaps, he holds of less account than do 
his brethren elsewhere. He seldom looks for them, he 



does not expect them ; his beati did not work many- 
miracles, but they endured many tortures, and they shed 
much blood, and he is of their kin. 

But behind and beneath this unemotional exterior is 
a fixed, almost a stolid faith ; an intense faith in God and 
in His Christ, which is utterly unaffected by the rational- 
ising blindness around him ; a faith in the Mother of God 
to whom, as did his fathers long ago, he continues to 
offer his country as her " Dowry " ; a proud faith in that 
universal Church of wliich he knows himself, by every- 
day experience and obedience, to be a member ; a loyal 
faith in the Holy Father, which is for ever seeking 
opportunities to manifest itself; a faith that is ever 
willing to make sacrifices, that schools may be built, that 
churches may be beautified, that priests may be trained, 
that convents may be supported, that foreign missionaries 
may be equipped, that the poor may be fed, that the 
downtrodden may be rescued. Taken as a whole, the 
Catholics of England are poor ; yet, taken as a whole, 
we may justly claim that no Catholics in the world have, 
of their own accord, made more sacrifices for their faith 
than they. They have their reward, and they are con- 
tented with it, that by the goodness of God the faith 
that is in them and in their children is strong, and living, 
and splendid. 

We have ventured to make this digression because it 
seems to us that we may thus best express the significance 
of Catholic life in the last quarter of a century. Though 
the battle of the Church in England has not ceased — 
indeed, in some way it must always go on — still during 
these last twenty-five years there has steadily grown a 
certain sense of strength, and security, and confidence. 
We no longer fear ; in truth, we are rather feared. We 
are sure, we know, others do not know and doubt ; and 
to cover their doubting they " agree with their rivals 



betimes " lest they fall. And with this confidence, this 
certainty, we have ventured forth to action in ways of 
which our fathers never dreamt. When he witnessed, 
in 1908, the Eucharistic Congress in London, Newman 
in heaven must indeed have thanked God. For that 
Congress meant much, not only for Catholics, but also 
for England. It meant an impulse to frequent Com- 
munion just at the time when it was needed. It meant 
the last blow to that shameful bigotry which had been 
stereotyped in the Royal Oath. It meant a reawakening 
throughout non-Catholic England to the truth of the 
Blessed Sacrament, with a longing to regain that which 
its ancestors trampled under foot. 

Another sign of these last years has been the growth 
of vocations, especially to the contemplative life. Among 
men it has been less marked ; the vineyard of the Lord 
still demands every labourer it can muster. Indeed, the 
demand to-day is greater than ever it has been before, for 
the fields were never whiter for the harvest. Still, even 
among men the stream flows, and there are signs that 
soon it will flow stronger. But among women the 
growth has been such as to astonish even the most 
sanguine. In another place will be seen statistics giving 
the increase of our contemplative convents ; here it is 
enough for us to speak of them as signs, of the Hving 
faith which alone can produce such ample fruit, of the 
lasting fidelity which fosters it, of the sanctuaries of 
prayer spread about the land, bringing down the blessing 
of God on every man and woman in it. And, thank 
God ! it is not only we Catholics who recognise this fact. 
It is recognised and welcomed by hundreds and thousands 
of non-Catholics ; perhaps it is recognised by all who 
have any faith in prayer. 

We come to our own time, the period of the Great 
War and after. What the war brought home to many 



has often been told ; the work of our chaplains, the 
valour of our men, especially the Irish regiments, in 
facing death ; the spirit of reUgion that prevailed in the 
devastated areas of France ; these have left an indeUble 
mark upon the rank and file of our countrymen. Men 
came back with their conceptions altered ; since that 
time they have not been ashamed to listen to those who 
would tell them more of the one Church Universal. 
And our youth has risen to supply the need. The 
Catholic Evidence Guild, the Catholic Social Guild, the 
CathoHc Action Society, the missions to non-Catholics, 
are evidence of this in abundance. 

But these last are evidences of something more. 
They tell of that within which gives us great hope for the 
future. Early in this essay we spoke of the inarticulate 
condition of our fathers ; now we would say, of our own 
generation, that at last it has learnt to speak. Not in 
every way, it is true ; there are still many things of which 
English CathoUcs are scarcely yet able to speak or write, 
and which must be sought abroad. But the voice, 
nevertheless, has been heard, in our streets, in lecture 
rooms, on bookstalls. The vision of the Church has been 
seen. And both alike tell of a soul and a life which are 
sturdy ; which have weathered many storms and will 
weather many more ; and which will bear fruit in 
season, for the good and uplift of their country, and for 
the greater glory of God. 






In any comprehensive survey of the remarkable develop- 
ment of the Church in England and "Wales during the 
past hundred years (i 829-1929), it will be found that 
no section of Catholic activity has made more significant 
and fruitful progress than that of education. Certainly 
no phase of Catholic endeavour has contributed more 
largely, both directly and indirectly, to the extension 
of Catholic influence generally than the persistent efforts 
of the Catholic body, especially during the second half 
of the century, for the retention of their schools within 
the national system of education. Not only has the 
erection of many a new church resulted from the prior 
establishment of a school, not infrequently in most 
adverse circumstances, but in every large parish the 
school has served as a centre of religious and social work 
in the district. The serious financial disability under which 
Catholic schools have suffered, subsequent to the passing 
of the Education Act, 1870, in particular, although the 
position was substantially ameliorated by Lord Balfour's 
Act of 1902, has united all sections of the Catholic 
community in the defence of their schools, and in the 
long-drawn-out struggle for obtaining adequate assist- 
ance from pubhc funds for their support. Moreover, 
nothing has assisted more materially in securing for 
Catholics a recognised position amongst their non- 
Catholic fellow-countrymen than their courageous efforts 
to safeguard their schools, at times against odds appa- 
rently overwhelming, when unfriendly efforts at legis- 
lation have threatened their existence. A retrospect 



of the past hundred years would have undoubtedly 
been far less consoling and inspiring if Catholics had 
remained educationally inactive during that period, and 
from 1870 onwards had passively allowed their schools 
to be transferred to local education authorities and their 
children to attend undenominational public schools. 

As a hundred years ago no national system of 
education existed in this country, it is difficult to contrast 
the position of Catholic schools then with the highly- 
developed Catholic educational system of to-day. In 
1829 Catholics had no access to English university 
education, as entrance to Oxford and Cambridge was 
subject to religious tests. Training colleges for teachers 
had not been instituted. For the higher education of 
boys and girls. Catholics possessed, as a result in most 
cases of the revolutionary troubles in France towards the 
end of the eighteenth century, the small beginnings of 
some of their largest public schools of to-day and a few 
convent boarding schools. The work of primary edu- 
cation rested almost entirely in the hands of charitable 
associations, Anglican and Nonconformist, which or- 
ganised schools for the children of the poor, with the 
fundamental object of providing religious education 
for them. Similar Catholic charitable associations had 
been founded in London and different parts of the 
country within the previous half-century, which, by 
1829, had succeeded in establishing some sixty to seventy 
Catholic primary schools. 

"What a contrast does the position of Catholic 
education present in this country in 1929 ! Catholics 
have not only unfettered access to, but many halls of 
residence at Oxford and Cambridge, whilst at the 
younger universities, from London to Reading, large 
organised groups of Catholic students may be found. 
The development of higher education has been equally 



remarkable. The schools in existence in 1829 have 
extended considerably the scope and character of their 
work, and some hundreds of additional boarding and 
day secondary schools, established by the initiative of 
religious communities of men and women, or under the 
direction of the secular clergy, have grown up, especially 
in the large towns, in all parts of England and Wales, 
convent schools in particular. The small handful of 
Catholic primary schools in 1829 can be compared to- 
day with nearly 1,200 Catholic public elementary schools, 
many with two or three departments, with accom- 
modation for nearly 425,000 children, all recognised 
by the Board of Education, and maintained by public 
funds under the Education Act, 1921. Indeed, beyond 
this, the Catholic body in 1929 can claim the possession 
of considerably more privately-maintained elementary 
schools than its predecessors a century ago were able to 
organise with so much sacrifice and persistency. 

Throughout the past hundred years Catholic schools 
have usually been at a serious disadvantage with regard 
to aid from public funds compared with other schools. 
At the time of the passing of the Emancipation Act, 
primary schools depended entirely for their support on 
fees and voluntary funds or endowments resulting from 
the same source. Four years later the Government 
voted the first grant from pubUc funds towards the 
erection of primary school buildings, amounting to 
£20,000, a ludicrous sum contrasted with the present 
annual vote of about £40,000,000 for pubUc educational 
purposes by the Board of Education under the Education 
Act, 1 92 1. For many years the benefits of this building 
grant were restricted to schools organised either by the 
Anglican National Society or by the Nonconformist 
British and Foreign School Society, Catholic schools 
having no share therein. The grant, of course, proved 



inadequate, but by 1838, 714 National schools and 181 
British and Foreign schools had been assisted. Although 
in that year Parliament refused to establish a special 
Government department for education, in 1839 Queen 
Victoria appointed a Committee of the Privy Council 
to administer both building and maintenance grants, 
from which time dated some form of official inspection of 
the schools benefiting. The first training college for 
teachers was opened in 1841, whilst the pupil-teacher 
system and the " Queen's Scholarship " examination, 
which conferred upon successful candidates free entrance 
to the first named, were initiated in 1846. 

CathoUcs did not secure a share in the Government 
grant until the end of 1847, and their success was due 
mainly to the efforts of the Hon. Charles Langdale, who 
was chairman of an education committee formed in 
1 845 by the CathoUc Institute for the purpose of agitating 
for a share in Government grant, which by this time 
amounted to ^(^ 100,000 annually, for Catholic schools. 
A long correspondence with members of the Govern- 
ment, undertaken by Langdale in 1846, followed by a 
deputation, and afterwards by protest meetings, when a 
grant was voted to Wesleyan schools apart from the 
ordinary grant to British schools, led in 1847 to the 
supersession of the Catholic Institute, and the formation 
by the Vicars-Apostolic of the Catholic Poor School 
Committee — the predecessor of the Catholic Education 
Council — as an organisation for Catholics, parallel with 
the National Society and the British and Foreign Society, 
with the Hon. Charles Langdale as its chairman, a post 
which he retained until his death in 1868. Langdale's 
conciliatory methods received ample justification in 
December 1847, when the Committee of Council on 
Education passed a minute authorising grants to Catholic 
schools, and Parliament the following year increased the 



total grant to £125,000 to make provision for this 

During the twenty-two years between the date of 
Langdale's first success and the introduction of Mr. 
Forster's Education Bill into Parliament in 1870, many 
developments in Catholic elementary schools in England 
and Wales took place. In 1850, St. Mary's Training 
College for men teachers, in the first instance for religious, 
was founded at Brook Green, Hammersmith, a sub- 
stantial addition for lay teachers being made five years 
later. In 1856, the Sisters of Notre Dame, from Namur, 
founded their training college for mistresses at Mount 
Pleasant, Liverpool. Whilst according to a table pub- 
lished in that year the Government grant to primary 
schools in 185 5 amounted to £369,602, of which Catholic 
schools received only £13,272, and, up to December 
1854, Church of England schools had obtained in 
Government building grants no less than £415,000, 
whereas Catholic schools had only secured £3,131, the 
report of the Catholic Poor School Committee for 1871 
recorded that Government grants made to Catholic 
schools from 1847 to 1870 amounted to £487,799. 

The agitation throughout the country, responsible 
for the introduction of the Education Act, 1870, into 
Parliament, caused considerable anxiety amongst de- 
nominationalists. So far the education of the poorer 
classes had been entrusted to the oversight of religious 
organisations on the principle that religious education 
and secular education could not be separated. If 
additional school places were required, the supporters of 
the denominational schools suggested that further State 
help should be granted to the religious bodies which for 
many years past had accomplished so much useful 
educational work mainly on a voluntary basis. The 
economists, too, feared that the introduction of a new 



type of school, under the care of popularly elected 
bodies, supported largely by public funds, would tend 
to diminish assistance from voluntary sources. That 
supporters of Catholic schools shared in this anxiety is 
evident from the annual report of the Catholic Poor 
School Committee for 1868. Although Catholics came 
into participation in the Parliamentary grant ten years 
later than Anglicans and Dissenters, in the last accounts 
previous to the 1868 report they could point to 507 
day schools with 67,143 children present at inspection, 
and 138 evening schools with 9,686 pupils at inspection, 
with a staff of 618 schoolmasters and mistresses and 631 
pupil teachers. For the year ended August 31, 1 867, the 
income of Catholic schools in England and Wales was 
£55,842, of which £21,591 came from Government 
grant. The financial disability of Catholic schools was 
urged, for wliilst in Anglican schools the income 
worked out at £1 6s. c)d. per scholar, and in Dissenting 
schools £1 Gs. <)\d.y in CathoHc schools it was only 
£1 OS. z\d. 

The question of impending legislation again figured 
in the report of the Catholic Poor School Committee for 
1869. After explaining that no school received a main- 
tenance grant unless it provided sixty per cent, of the 
entire cost of maintenance, and no school a building 
grant unless seventy-five per cent of the total cost of the 
project was forthcoming, the report suggested that the 
fact that the denominational system had not reached the 
whole population did not mean that the system had 
failed, but that the conditions imposed by the Privy 
Council were unsatisfactory. If the Privy Council had 
promised the balance necessary between fees and the 
total cost, as proposed for the new type of public schools, 
the denominational system would have had a fair test. 
The figures with regard to Catholic child population in 



Great Britain were also examined. 100,000 children 
were already in Catholic grant-aided schools, and 
assuming that the total Catholic population in Great 
Britain was 1,200,000, it was estimated that 178,000 
Catholic children should be under instruction. 

The introduction of Mr. Forster's Bill the following 
year provoked considerable activity on the part of the 
Catholic Poor School Committee, which formed a 
special committee to examine its sections in detail and to 
report to the Hierarchy. Representations on points 
affecting Catholic interests were made to the Govern- 
ment, a memorandum on the subject being sent to the 
Prime Minister by Lord Howard of Glossop, who had 
been elected chairman of the Catholic Poor School 
Committee on the death of the Hon. Charles Langdale. 
The great concern of the Catholic body was not only the 
preservation of their existing schools, but the provision 
for the large number of Catholic children outside these 
schools, who, if Catholics remained inactive, would be 
compelled to attend the new public schools, in which 
definite religious instruction could not be given. 

As all the Bishops were in Rome for the Vatican 
Council, consultation with them had to be carried on by 
letter. The Catholic Poor School Committee report for 
1870 contains a joint letter of instruction from the Eternal 
City, signed by all the Bishops, suggesting certain amend- 
ments in Mr. Forster's Bill. Its assured passage through 
Parliament prompted immediate action with regard to 
provision of additional Catholic school places. A crisis 
fund was started at a meeting at Norfolk House, under 
the presidency of the Duke of Norfolk, which soon 
amounted to nearly ^£5 0,000, the Duke himself and the 
Marquess of Bute each contributing £10,000. This fund, 
aided by persistent local effort, led to a remarkable 
expansion in the provision of Catholic school places in 



various parts of the country, as the following figures 
will show : 

No. of Catholic Present at 

Date. Schools. Accommodation. Inspection. 

1870 350 101,556 83,017 

1874 567 150,000 (?) 119,582 

1879 737 242,403 1 59^576 

1884 828 284,514 200,158 

1890 946 341,953 223,645 

To have more than doubled Catholic school accommo- 
dation in less than ten years was a great achievement. 

As many had anticipated, the Board schools, set up by 
the Education Act, 1870, soon became competitors of the 
voluntary schools. In 1870 the average annual cost of 
educating a child in grant-aided schools was £1 ^s. 5^. 
Although this amount had increased by about one-third 
in the previous ten years, it was confidently assumed that 
the cost per child would not eventually exceed £1 los, 
per year, which could be met in the case of the Board 
schools by a rate not exceeding 3^. in the £. Expendi- 
ture on the public schools, however, increased at a 
standard not expected, gravely to the disadvantage of 
the denominational schools. By 1882, in voluntary 
schools the maintenance per child in average attendance 
had increased from £1 y. ^d. per year to £1 14s. 6|^. 
Of this sum the Government grant provided ijj-. ^d. and 
voluntary contributions 6/. \o\d. In Board schools the 
cost was £i IS. G\d., iGs. id. coming from Government 
grant and i7J". from the rates. Thus the supporters of 
voluntary schools, whilst paying their rates for Board 
schools, had in addition to find large sums from voluntary 
contributions for the support of their own schools, 
which, with much less money at their disposal, were 
expected to reach the same educational standard as the 
rate-aided Board schools. Catholic schools could not 



have continued the unequal struggle if it had not been 
for the self-sacrificing work of Catholic teachers, religious 
and lay, who gave their services generously to the work 
of Catholic education for salaries which compared very 
unfavourably with those paid to teachers in Board 
schools. Despite the inducements offered by the latter, 
hundreds of Catholic lay teachers remained throughout 
the whole of their careers in Catholic schools. 

Notwithstanding the strong efforts made by the 
supporters of voluntary schools to meet the deficiencies 
in school accommodation in the years immediately 
following the application of the Act of 1870, the great 
financial strain placed upon those responsible for the 
maintenance of these schools soon began to tell in the 
case of individual schools. Nonconformists, finding 
the undenominational religious instruction provided in 
many Board schools at public expense to their satisfaction, 
began to transfer their voluntary schools to School 
Boards. In many districts, too, passive Anglicans 
followed the Nonconformist example, with the result 
that by 1884, despite the increase of the total amount of 
voluntary school accommodation, nearly 1,000 schools, 
about two-thirds of which had been Church of England, 
were transferred to public authorities. It is a singular 
tribute to the self-sacrifice and devotion of the Catholic 
body that not one of these transferred schools was a 
Catholic school. 

The financial strain, too, was greater in the case of 
Catholic than of other voluntary schools. According to 
official figures published by the Board of Education for 
1884, the proportion of free admissions was greatest in 
Catholic schools : in Board schools 4-16, in Church of 
England schools 2-64, in Catholic schools 13-11, in 
Wesleyan schools • 84. Similarly, Catholic schools had 
the lowest receipt per pupil in school pence. 



The conditions of the Government grant, which 
fixed a Hmit of i-js. 6^., unless the income from fees and 
voluntary contributions exceeded that amount, affected 
Catholic schools more adversely, owing to the poverty of 
the Catholic body. Every form of increased expenditure 
by Board schools, therefore, inflicted a double hardship 
upon the supporters of Catholic schools. Catholics 
had both to pay the larger rate for the support of Board 
schools and at the same time increase their voluntary 
subscriptions to enable their own schools to compete 
with the educational developments of the former. To 
emphasise the injustice, on every new Catholic school, 
provided at the cost of great self-sacrifice, they actually 
had to pay education rate for the support of the Board 
schools. How well Catholics endeavoured to face the 
situation may be gathered from the fact that voluntary 
contributions for their schools increased from ^£25,000 
in 1870 to £66,000 in 1884. 

Catholics did not remain inactive under this ever- 
increasing injustice, for, in addition to frequent meetings 
of protest in London and other parts of the country, 
repeated representations were made by the Bishops and 
the Catholic Poor School Committee to the Govern- 
ment for the time being. In 1884 a movement known 
as the Voluntary Schools Association, the object of 
which was to agitate for the removal of the financial 
inequalities of the voluntary schools, was initiated in 
Salford by Bishop (afterwards Cardinal) Vaughan. This 
organisation, wliich soon spread to other parts of the 
country, asked for an immediate increase of the Govern- 
ment grant by twenty-five per cent, and for the removal of 
four specific grievances : (i) the lyj. Gd. limit of the 
Government grant unless the total income per child 
from other sources exceeded that amount ; (2) the 
necessity for Catholic parents to apply to Boards of 



Guardians for remission of school fees if attending 
Catholic schools, whereas School Boards could remit 
the fees of children attending Board schools ; (3) the 
rating of voluntary school buildings for the support of 
Board schools ; (4) the refusal to recognise Catholic 
schools as necessary if vacant Board school accom- 
modation existed. A preliminary concession to the 
continued protests of the supporters of voluntary schools 
was the appointment of a Royal Commission in 1886 to 
enquire into the working of the Education Act, 1870, 
with Sir Richard Cross as chairman and Cardinal Manning 
amongst its members. The Commission, after sitting 
for two years, issued as usual a majority and a minority 
report, the latter being signed by eight out of twenty- 
three commissioners. The majority report was favour- 
able to the voluntary schools, recognising the unfair 
financial conditions under which they worked and 
recommending that they should receive rate aid for the 
secular instruction given in them. The Government, 
however, took no immediate action on the report. 

The first substantial relief to Catholic schools came, 
strange to say, from the Act of 189 1, which secured free 
education for the elementary schools. Introduced by a 
Conservative Government, the scheme for free education 
safeguarded the fundamental position of voluntary 
schools. Catholic schools actually derived greater 
financial advantage from the proposals than other de- 
nominational schools, on account of the exiguous 
character of their former income from school fees. The 
Act provided an annual grant of loj". per child between 
the ages of three and fifteen years, if no fees were charged. 
As the average annual amount of fees per child in 
Catholic schools was 9J'. 5^., a slight advantage accrued 
to these schools on the number of children then in 
attendance. Indirectly the Act greatly benefited them, 



as it led to a substantial increase in the average attend- 
ance, as parents were no longer obliged to go through 
the long process involved in making application for a 
remission of fees. Whatever relief was gained, how- 
ever, was soon counterbalanced by increasing demands 
for raising the educational standards in the schools, and 
consequently Catholic agitation for a redress of the 
financial inequalities continued. 

The Conservative triumph at the polls in 1894 filled 
the supporters of Catholic schools with hopes of securing 
a reasonable settlement of their difficulties . In November 
of the following year Cardinal Vaughan, who had suc- 
ceeded Cardinal Manning as Archbishop of Westminster 
in 1892, and the Duke of Norfolk, who had been elected 
chairman of the Catholic Poor School Committee in 
1885, presented a memorial to Lord Salisbury, the Prime 
Minister, strongly deprecating the necessity for voluntary 
contributions in support of Catholic schools, and asking 
that denominational schools should receive the same 
support from public funds as Board schools. A few 
weeks later, however, to the great surprise of CathoHcs, 
an influential Anglican deputation to the Prime Minister 
declared that the Church of England had no desire to be 
relieved of its obligations to make voluntary contribu- 
tions, and expressed its willingness to accept a condition 
of a fixed proportion of voluntary contributions in any 
settlement effected. A joint pastoral by the Catholic 
Hierarchy in response to the Anglican proposal 
strongly reaffirmed the plea that the CathoUc body could 
not continue indefinitely the double burden of finding 
voluntary contributions for their own schools and paying 
heavy rates for the support of Board schools. This 
serious division in the ranks of denominationaUsts, no 
doubt, explained the inadequate character both of the 
abortive Education Bill, 1896, and of the Education 



Act, 1897, which Catholics accepted merely as an interim 
arrangement. This Act gave an additional grant of 
5 J", per child in the voluntary schools, which was pooled 
and distributed according to the necessities of the 
schools concerned by diocesan voluntary schools associ- 
ations statutorily set up by its provisions, abolished the 
lyj". (>d. limit, and exempted voluntary school buildings 
from rating. These three substantial benefits, whilst 
ameliorating some of their difficulties, still left the 
denominational schools at a grave disadvantage com- 
pared with the publicly-maintained Board schools. 

As a result of the General Election in 1900, after an 
unsuccessful attempt at legislation in 1901, the following 
year the Prime Minister, Mr. Arthur Balfour, introduced 
his famous Education Bill, which proposed to give 
denominational schools for the first time a share in the 
rates raised for public education purposes. In its final 
form the Bill, which was mainly attributed at the time to 
Sir Robert Morant, the Permanent Secretary to the Board 
of Education, not only promised substantial relief to 
the harassed denominational schools, but endeavoured, 
successfully, to bring under the oversight of one 
authority all sections of educational work, elementary, 
secondary, higher and technical, greatly to the advan- 
tage of each. With regard to denominational elementary 
schools, it laid down certain definite principles. The 
local education authorities constituted under the Bill 
were given control of secular education and of all 
expenditure thereon from public funds, both taxes and 
rates, the responsibility for religious instruction being re- 
tained by the managing body of each school, the right of 
nominating one-third of the members of which was 
accorded to the local authority. Upon the last named 
was placed the duty of maintaining from pubHc funds 
every denominational school within its area declared 



to be necessary by the Board of Education, whilst the 
obligation of providing the site and building and keep- 
ing same in structural repair remained with the managers. 
As to the appointment of teachers, whilst the local 
authority fixed the number and qualifications of the 
staff of each school, the managers appointed the teachers, 
but the former could veto an appointment on educa- 
tional grounds, subject to an appeal to the Board of 
Education. The local authority could also in a similar 
way direct the dismissal of a teacher on educational 
grounds : the managers could only dismiss a teacher 
by their own authority on grounds connected with the 
giving of religious instruction. The Bill also contained 
arrangements for applications to the Board of Education 
for the recognition of new denominational schools. 

Catholics, of course, welcomed the new Bill, although 
it removed the control of secular instruction, save for 
the appointment of the teacher, and the ordinary manage- 
ment of the schools from Catholic hands, accepting 
it as a compromise upon the best terms then obtainable. 
London, owing to the complexity of its local govern- 
ment, was excluded from the 1902 Bill and dealt with in 
a separate measure the following year. The Bill, which 
was introduced in March 1902, met with bitter 
opposition. As it involved the abolition of School 
Boards, whose powers were to be merged in County 
Councils, Town Councils, and Urban District Councils, 
considerable local opposition was also engendered. 
Extreme Nonconformists even raised the cry of " Rome 
on the Rates," an example of the unfair character of their 
opposition. In the protracted debates in the House of 
Commons, Catholics owed much to the Parliamentary 
experience and skill of the members of the Irish Parlia- 
mentary Party in stating the Catholic position, and in 
safeguarding the interests of Catholic schools. After 



several months the Government carried their Bill in the 
House of Commons, but only by means of the " guillo- 
tine." When it had secured the approval of the House 
of Lords and was placed upon the Statute Book, Non- 
conformists again organised a scheme of opposition to 
its application, by initiating a League of Passive Re- 
sistance, whose members refused to pay that portion of 
their education rate which they estimated would be 
applied towards the upkeep of denominational schools. 
A summons for payment, followed by a distraint on the 
resister's goods, occurred quarter after quarter for many 
years after. The protests, however, proved generally 
ineffective, as the man-in-the-street did not appreciate 
how those, who prior to 1902 had paid taxes towards 
the support of denominational schools, could, after 
1902, have conscientious scruples against paying rates 
for the same purpose. 

The 1902 Act came into force the following year : 
the 1903 Act, the London Act, in 1904. Their appli- 
cation, of course, proved an immense relief to the 
Catholic body. From the appointed days under these 
Acts, the local education authorities became responsible 
for the maintenance of all Catholic public elementary 
schools. Difficulties, however, immediately arose. 
Local authorities with majorities opposed to the new 
Act, in many cases, began to harass denominational, or 
non-provided, schools by administration. To make 
matters worse, before the Board of Education could deal 
with many of the appeals against the unfair action of 
local authorities, the dissolution of Parliament in 1905 
resulted in a sweeping victory for the Liberal Party, 
which meant that afterwards in many parts of the country 
Catholic schools had to face a hostile education authority 
co-operating with an exacting Board of Education. 

A typical example of the courageous and self- 



sacrificing manner in which the Catholic body met the 
determined attack of the opponents of their schools by 
administration can be found in London, which at that 
period was governed by an unfriendly education 
authority. From 1904 onwards London Catholics must 
have expended about £200,000 in satisfying the demands 
of the local authority and the Board in connection with 
their school buildings. Many schools were rebuilt, a 
large number were remodelled, all were substantially 
improved. From 1 904 to 1 909 the present Cardinal Arch- 
bishop of Westminster created a record in laying the 
foundation stones of new school buildings. Fortu- 
nately for London Catholics, the unfriendly majority on 
the London County Council suffered a severe defeat at 
the Council triennial election in 1907, and the new 
Municipal Reform majority, which has remained in 
power ever since, initiated a regime of friendly co- 
operation with the denominational schools, mitigating 
the former harsh decisions of the Council and the Board 
as far as practicable, and setting an example to the rest 
of the country in a generous administration of the Act. 

A far greater danger than local administration, how- 
ever, soon threatened Catholic schools. Urged on by 
their Nonconformist supporters, the majority in the 
House of Commons in 1906 determined to revise the 
Education- Act, 1902. The new Prime Minister, Sir 
Henry Campbell-Bannerman, who appointed Mr. 
Augustine Birrell Minister of Education, announced 
that in the first session of the new Parliament a Bill 
would be introduced to amend the Balfour Act. 

Under its provisions, as later appeared, the dual 
system was to be abolished : all rate-aided schools were 
to be transferred to the local education authorities : 
undenominational religious instruction was to be obliga- 
tory in all schools : in transferred schools, religious 



teaching of a definite denominational nature could be 
arranged on two mornings a week at the expense of the 
denomination : in urban districts for schools of a de- 
nominational character " extended religious facilities '* 
could be given on every day in the week, provided four- 
fifths of the parents demanded it, and under this arrange- 
ment teachers could volunteer for the religious instruction 
with the permission of the local authority. The last 
named proposal was intended as a concession for 
transferred Catholic schools. 

The introduction of the Bill stirred the Catholic 
body in this country in a really remarkable manner in 
defence of their schools. In response to an appeal of 
the Hierarchy, from one end of the country to the other, 
enthusiastic demonstrations of protest were held, with 
the reiterated demand for Catholic children of " Catholic 
religious teaching by Catholic teachers in Catholic schools 
under Catholic control." Lancashire, as usual, led the 
way with monster meetings in Liverpool, Manchester, 
Preston, and other towns : Yorkshire and the Mid- 
lands followed with demonstrations in Leeds, Halifax, 
Birmingham, Nottingham, Leicester, and other large 
centres of population : London co-operated with meet- 
ings north, south, east, and west — ^the writer remembers 
addressing an open air demonstration, 1 5 ,000 strong, on 
Clapham Common on a Sunday afternoon. The climax 
to these wonderful gatherings was reached in the huge 
meeting in the Albert Hall, under the presidency of 
Archbishop Bourne, on the first Saturday evening in 
May 1906, on the eve of the debate on the second 
reading of the Bill in the House of Commons, a demon- 
stration which created an extraordinary impression 
in London and the country on account of its whole- 
hearted enthusiasm, determination and unity of purpose, 
despite all political and racial differences. Inside, the 



vast hall was thronged with an audience of 10,000 
persons, whilst outside an overflow meeting, estimated 
as numbering between 30,000 and 40,000 stalwarts from 
all parts of London and district, who could not secure 
admission, assembled. 

Notwithstanding all protests, the Bill passed the 
House of Commons without any amendments which 
rendered its provisions more acceptable to the supporters 
of denominational schools. Undismayed by this result. 
Catholics immediately proceeded to carry their opposition 
to the Upper House, a representative deputation, headed 
by Archbishop Bourne, waiting upon the Marquess of 
Lansdowne, the leader of the Conservative Peers. When 
the Second Reading and Committee stage were again 
reached, the House of Lords altered the Bill funda- 
mentally. By skilfully-drawn amendments provision 
was made for denominational teaching in every type of 
school, and for the existence of State-aided schools free 
from the control of local authorities. The erection of 
new denominational schools in areas with a deficiency of 
school accommodation was also authorised. In accord- 
ance with general expectation, the House of Commons 
refused to accept these amendments, and a joint com- 
mittee of the two Houses appointed to consider the 
impasse failed to find a solution. In face of the wide- 
spread opposition which the Bill had aroused, the 
Government, much to the chagrin of their Non- 
conformist supporters, merely dropped the measure. 
CathoUcs undoubtedly contributed materially by their 
efforts to this remarkable victory, for their organised 
protests in every part of the country strengthened the 
opposition of the denominationalists generally. They 
were greatly indebted to the members of the Irish 
Parliamentary Party and to the Catholic Peers, headed 
by the late Duke of Norfolk. 



The Government made two further attempts to 
amend the 1902 Act, both of which did not pass beyond 
the House of Commons. In 1908 Mr. Reginald McKenna, 
who had succeeded Mr. Birrell at the Board of Education, 
introduced a Bill embodying the principle of contracting 
out, whilst later in the same year the third Minister of 
Education in the Government, Mr. Walter Runciman, 
was also responsible for a further Bill. Noncon- 
formists, however, derived some satisfaction from Mr. 
McKenna's regime at the Board, by his revision of the 
Board of Education's grant regulations both for training 
colleges and for secondary schools, which made it 
impossible for any new institution in either category to 
be placed upon the Government grant list, unless in 
effect it became undenominational in character. A 
deputation, led by Archbishop Bourne, to the Prime 
Minister in 1908, with regard to amended regulations 
for existing training colleges, aimed at securing admission 
for students without regard to creed, stated quite frankly 
that Catholic colleges would ignore the alterations. 
These secondary school regulations, which greatly 
impeded the development of Catholic secondary schools, 
were modified for England to Catholic satisfaction by 
Mr. H. A. L. Fisher in 1919, whilst the present 
President of the Board of Education, Lord Eustace 
Percy, two years ago extended the modification to 
Wales and similarly altered the regulations for training 
colleges for both countries. 

Since that time, both before and after the Great War, 
many fruitless efforts have been made, apart from 
Catholics, to arrive at a settlement with regard to the 
education question. Failure to discover an agreed 
solution does not mean that meanwhile Catholic elemen- 
tary schools have been free from difficulties. Since the 
"compromise" of 1902, the character of school buildings 



has greatly improved, and educational developments, 
not then anticipated, have taken place, all involving 
considerable additional expenditure on the part of the 
managers of non-provided schools. As a result of the 
Great War, too, the financial standards existing when 
the 1902 Act was placed upon the Statute Book have 
been completely altered, the cost of building having 
more than doubled. Meanwhile a large number of 
Catholic school buildings, accepted as suitable for their 
purpose twenty-five years ago, have become out of date 
and require substantial alterations and improvements to 
bring them into line with modern school buildings, 
which, under existing legislation, will have to be carried 
out by the managers at the greatly enhanced post-War 
prices, making an intolerable financial burden for the 
supporters of these schools. Moreover, the provision 
of large housing estates by local authorities under recent 
Housing Acts, making substantial grants-in-aid from 
taxes and rates in order to assist the housing shortage 
and slum clearances, has necessitated the establishment 
of many new Catholic schools, again at post- War prices. 
Catholics are courageously facing these new problems, 
having provided many central schools and many new 
ordinary elementary schools, and having remodelled 
successfully many condemned school buildings, but at a 
prohibitive cost, wliichitis both unjust and unreasonable 
that they should be called upon to bear from their own 
resources. They are therefore again agitating for a re- 
moval of their financial grievances with regard to their 
elementary schools, claiming equaUty of treatment with 
Council schools. 

Despite even greater difficulties than those experi- 
enced with primary schools, the Catholic body can 
point to substantial development in their provision for 
secondary education during the past hundred years. 



Their progress in this respect is more notable as Catholic 
public attention and interest have necessarily been almost 
entirely riveted upon the provision and preservation of 
elementary schools. For the first seventy years, in the 
absence of direct assistance from public funds. Catholics 
had to depend almost entirely for their secondary 
schools upon the religious communities of men and 
women. All the colleges and schools in existence at 
the time of the passing of the Catholic Emancipation 
Act have materially extended their scope and character, 
increasing their accommodation and providing school 
buildings, with senior and preparatory departments, in 
many cases comparable with the great non-Catholic 
public schools in the country. Stonyhurst, Ushaw, 
Downside, St. Edmund's, "Ware, Ampleforth, St. 
Wilfrid's, Cotton, the Oratory School, Caversham, 
Mount St. Mary's, Chesterfield, RatclifFe, and many 
others, more recent additions for boys, and convent 
schools for girls of every grade, have given the Catholic 
upper and middle classes a wide choice of boarding 
schools for their children. 

The whole position of secondary education in this 
country, however, was revolutionised by the Education 
Act, 1902. Prior to the establishment of the Board of 
Education by the Act of 1899, Catholic secondary 
schools could not secure assistance from public funds, 
except indirectly. The Science and Art Department, 
South Kensington, which was merged in the Board of 
Education by the 1899 Act, made grants to schools in 
respect of science classes held therein. As a secondary 
school provided science classes, it was possible for it to 
obtain grants in this way. Similarly, under the Technical 
Education Act, 1889, County Councils were empowered 
to give grants to schools for courses in general education 
in preparation for technical education, and were entrusted 



with the disbursement of the " whiskey " money, the 
results of a tax on spirits allocated for educational 
purposes. Some Catholic schools received small grants 
and allowances for scholarship holders under this 
category. Direct grants from the Board of Education 
began in 1901, whilst the 1902 Act committed the over- 
sight of secondary education within their areas to county 
councils and county boroughs, empowering both to 
spend money on the provision of secondary schools, and 
to aid voluntary secondary schools already in existence. 
As these authorities also control elementary education, 
it was possible for them by means of scholarship schemes 
to build a ladder from the elementary schools by way of 
the secondary schools to the university. 

As soon as the 1902 Act came into force, it resulted, 
especially in the large towns, in the establishment of 
many municipal day secondary schools, both for boys 
and girls, financed, apart from fees, entirely by public 
funds, taxes and rates. At first local education authorities 
for higher education used sparingly the poiver of aiding 
voluntary secondary schools conferred by the Act. 
Catholics, therefore, found themselves at a disadvantage 
in establishing day secondary schools, as they received 
only the Board of Education grant and fees towards 
their support, whereas the municipal secondary schools 
had in addition large subsidies from the rates. To make 
matters worse, during Mr. Reginald McKenna's tenure 
of the office of President of the Board of Education, as 
has already been mentioned, the Board's secondary 
school grant regulations were amended in a manner 
which proved a great obstacle to the development of 
Catholic secondary schools until they were modified 
some ten years later. 

Since 1902, a large number of Catholic day secondary 
schools, both for boys and girls, have been opened, 



mainly in tiie large towns, by the initiative of the secular 
clergy or religious communities such as the Society of 
Jesus, the Salesian Fathers, the Marist Fathers, the 
Brothers of the Christian Schools, the Xaverian Brothers, 
the Irish Christian Brothers, the Sisters of Notre Dame, 
the Faitliful Companions of Jesus, the Society of the 
Sacred Heart, the Ursulines, Sisters of Mercy, Sisters of 
the Sainte Union and others. Nearly one hundred such 
schools are recognised as efficient by the Board of 
Education, two-tliirds of which are upon its grant list 
and one-half receive a certain amount of aid from local 
authorities. Unfortunately, in the Education Act, 1902, 
these authorities were given 2. power not a duty of making 
such grants, the reason for this distinction being that 
twenty-seven years ago many endowed schools did not 
require much assistance from the rates. Few authorities 
have so far used the power generously. London, 
Birmingham, Bradford, Middlesex, and Cardiff have 
adopted the deficiency grant system, the most equitable 
arrangement for these schools : others make a capitation 
grant, generally comparing unfavourably with the cost 
per pupil to the rates in municipal schools in the same 
area : a tliird section vote a lump sum grant, similar in 
character : and many make no grant at all. In recent 
years, frequent representations on this inequality of 
treatment have been made both to the Board of Education 
and to the authorities concerned. 

Despite the difficulties under which many of these 
schools labour, they generally reach a satisfactory 
standard compared with the municipal schools, for not 
only do they figure well on university lists in the General 
School or similar examinations, but many retain satis- 
factory numbers of pupils for advanced courses for 
the intermediate degree examinations. In addition to 
schools recognised by the Board and local authorities, 



many other efficient Catholic secondary schools exist. 
The following figures, taken from the returns of the 
Diocesan Religious Inspectors in the Catholic Directory, 
give the total number of secondary schools by dioceses : 

Diocese. Catholic 

Secondary Schools. 

















Hexham and Newcastle 









































For the past twenty years, a potent influence in the 
development of Catholic secondary schools has been the 
Conferences of Catholic Colleges and of Convent 
Secondary Schools, the former founded in 1896, the 
second later, by the late Canon Driscoll, the first head- 
master of the Cardinal Vaughan School. These con- 
ferences meet annually at different colleges or schools for 
the consideration of papers on educational subjects, 
followed by discussion. They have led to common 
action in the interests of Catholic secondary education, 
and to the organised teaching of Catholic apologetics in 
the schools. Under the scheme for the constitution of 



the Catholic Education Council, the Conference of 
Catholic Colleges elects twelve members as representatives 
of secondary schools. 

To the religious communities, again to those of 
women in particular. Catholics are indebted for a large 
number of special schools for defective children of 
various types : physically defective, mentally defective, 
epileptic, blind, deaf and dumb, tubercular, some of 
which are models of their kind. Similarly they possess 
a good supply of residential poor law schools, industrial 
schools, and reformatory schools. More recently, keep- 
ing pace with modern medical developments, the school 
hospital supplying sldlled orthopaedic treatment for 
crippled children has been established, two good examples 
of which may be found at Eastcote and Clacton-on-Sea. 

The continued development of Catholic elementary 
and special schools would have been impossible but for 
the existence of Catholic training colleges. St. Mary's 
Training College for men teachers, established at 
Hammersmith by the Catholic Poor School Committee 
in 1850 and enlarged upon two occasions, with a final 
accommodation for 120 students, the only source of 
supply for Catholic men teachers in this country, was 
four years ago transferred, as a result of the sale of the old 
College site and buildings, to Strawberry Hill, Twicken- 
ham, originally the home of Horace Walpole and 
recently the property of the late Lord Mickleham, with 
thirty acres of ground attached. A substantial addition 
has been made to the buildings, which now have 
recognised accommodation for 150 students, with no 
less than 70 private students in addition from two 
religious communities. Northern Ireland and Malta. 
For many years in charge of the secular clergy, the 
College is now directed by the Vincentian Fathers, 
owing much in recent years to the ability of its present 



Principal, the Rev. J. J. Doyle, D.D., M.A. Mount 
Pleasant Training College, Liverpool, founded by the 
Sisters of Notre Dame of Namur in 1856, with accom- 
modation for 20, has developed into one of the most 
efficient training colleges for women in the country, 
with extensive buildings and practising school on the 
same site and direct connection with the University of 
Liverpool near by. Its marked progress will always be 
associated with the name of Sister Mary St. Philip, for 
many years its principal. It has now on its rolls 178 
students, of whom 1 3 last year took a four years' course. 
Provision for training women teachers has developed 
much more rapidly than in the case of men teachers, for 
equally well-equipped colleges have been established for 
many years by the Society of the Sacred Heart at St. 
Charles' Square, Kensington (formerly at Wandsworth), 
for 122 students, and at Newcastle-on-Tyne for 120 
students : by the Faithful Companions of Jesus at 
Sedgley Park, Salford, for 131 students : by the Sisters 
of Mercy at Hull for 112 students : by the Sisters of the 
Sainte Union at Southampton for 126 students : and 
more recently by the Sisters of Charity of St. Paul at 
Selly Park, Birmingham, for 50 students. AU these 
training colleges are upon the Board of Education's 
grant list. In addition, the Holy Child Sisters have a 
small training college for Catholic secondary school 
teachers in Cavendish Square, London, W., which, so 
far, has not received assistance from public funds. The 
above facts show the deep debt of gratitude which the 
Catholic body owes to the religious communities for 
the continued existence and development of their 
elementary schools. 

For university education. Catholic colleges had to 
depend mainly in the earlier part of the century upon the 
University of London, then only an examining body. 



For many years, Ushaw, Stonyhurst, Downside, and 
other leading Catholic colleges figured prominently 
upon^ its honours lists at the intermediate and degree 
examinations. Even after religious tests were removed 
at Oxford and Cambridge, the Hierarchy maintained for 
many years a prohibition against Catholic students 
going into residence at these universities. As a result 
of a widely-signed petition by Catholic laity to the Holy 
See in 1894, with the support of Cardinal Vaughan, 
Rome, the following year, authorised the withdrawal of 
the prohibition, subject to certain arrangements being 
made to facilitate opportunity for Catholic practice for 
the Catholic undergraduates and to the Catholic authori- 
ties being satisfied that adequate Catholic religious 
instruction was received by students before entrance. 
In order to fulfil these conditions, a CathoHc Universities 
Board was constituted by the Hierarchy, charged with 
the oversight of the necessary arrangements, wliich 
included the appointment of a Catholic chaplain for the 
Catholic undergraduates at each University, and the 
provision of a private chapel for their use in each case, in 
wliich, during term time, conferences on subjects of 
Catholic interest are held by well-known Catholic 
preachers. At each university, too. Catholic societies 
have been formed, wliich from time to time arrange 
lectures by Catholics, both clergy and laity, followed by 
discussion. The secular clergy and the religious orders, 
who for many years previously prepared their students 
for the external degrees of the University of London, 
now avail themselves to a great extent of the advantages 
offered by the older universities, at which they have 
founded houses of residence, some officially recognised 
by the university authorities. 

The great extension in secondary education and 
scholarship schemes, following the application of the 



Education Act, 1902, has also led to considerable 
development in the younger universities. The organi- 
sation of the internal side of London University in 1900, 
and the establishment of universities at various centres 
in the provinces, have brought university education more 
readily within the reach of Catholics who ordinarily 
would not have been able to undertake the expense of 
a degree course at Oxford or Cambridge. At each of 
the younger universities, largely owing to the advocacy 
in recent years of the Rev. C. C. Martindale, S.J., a 
Catholic University Society has been formed for the 
purpose of uniting Catholic students, with a local priest 
serving as chaplain, all of which are associated by means 
of a Federation of Catholic University Societies, which 
publishes a quarterly magazine, holds an annual con- 
ference, and sends delegates to the International Federa- 
tion of such societies, the Pax Romana. The latter last 
year actually held its annual conference at Cambridge, 
under the presidency of Professor Edward Bullough, 
honoured by the presence of a Prince of the Church, the 
Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, and attended by 
nearly three hundred delegates from various parts of 
Europe, a significant note of development in the year 
preceding the centenary. The wide-spread character of 
the Catholic University Society movement in tliis country 
may be gathered from the existence of local organisa- 
sations at Aberystwith, Bangor, Birmingham, Bristol, 
Cambridge, Durham, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Man- 
chester, Nottingham, Oxford, Reading, Sheffield and 

No retrospect of Catholic educational progress during 
the past hundred years would be complete without some 
reference to the work of the Catholic Poor School 
Committee and its successor since 1904, the Catholic 
Education Council, reconstructed to cope with the new 



situation created by the Education Act, 1902. This 
organisation, both in its earlier and later forms, has been 
an advisory body to the Hierarchy on all matters relating 
to elementary schools and training colleges, and, later, 
secondary schools as well. It has always been recog- 
nised by the Committee of the Privy Council, and by the 
Board of Education, as the agent of Catholic managers 
and governors in any difficulties arising in the administra- 
tion of the Education Acts as affecting Catholic schools. 
Supported by an annual collection in all churches by 
direction of the Bishops, it makes grants to CathoUc 
training colleges, towards the cost of religious inspection, 
towards struggling private primary schools not receiving 
assistance from public funds, and towards travelling 
expenses of children in scattered districts to the nearest 
CathoHc school. It also acts as a bureau of information 
and advice for Catholic managers. These services, as 
can be imagined, have been at times invaluable to the 
Catholic body. Founded in 1847, and reconstituted in 
1904, its principal officers have been : — Chairmen : Hon. 
Charles Langdale, 1847-68 ; Lord Howard of Glossop, 
1868-77; the Marquess of Ripon, 1877-85 ; the Duke of 
Norfolk, 1 885-1917; Mr. W. Fitzherbert Brockholes, 
1917-20; Sir John Gilbert, 1920-7; and Mr. F. N. 
Blundell, M.P., since 1927. Secretaries : Mr. S. Nasmyth 
Stokes, 1847-53 ; Mr. T. W. Allies, 1853-90 ; Mr. W. M. 
Hunnybun, 1 890-1 905 ; Sir Francis Anderton, 1905-27 ; 
Sir John Gilbert since 1927. By common consent, one 
name outstands. For nearly fifty years the late Duke of 
Norfolk was the leader in all Catholic lay effort on behalf 
of Catholic schools, a tower of strength in every way, 
the value of whose assistance to progress achieved it 
would be difficult to overstate. 




Reports of Catholic Poor School Committee and Catholic 

Education Council. 
Board of Education Reports. 
Catholic Directories. 
Catholic Encyclopaedia, Schools in England, Rev. M. Maher, 

Sequel to Catholic Emancipation, Bishop Ward. 
Life of Cardinal Vaughan, J. G. Snead-Cox. 
History of Elementary Education, C. Birchenough. 
Secondary Education in XlXth Century, R. L. Archer. 


The above retrospect deals only with education directly or 
indirectly connected with the national system of education. 






Any discussion of the relations between the Church and 
Literature falls, obviously and conveniently enough, 
under one of two headings. There is to be considered 
the attitude of the Church to the Literature that is 
peculiarly her own — to the Divine Library (Bibhotheca 
Divina) as St. Jerome named it — and to all manner of 
commentaries upon it ; and there is also to be con- 
sidered the attitude of the Church towards the great 
pagan literature that she found and towards the great 
secular literature, often of mixed origin and mixed 
tendency, that has come into being during her age-long 
attempt to restore all things in Christ. Such a discussion, 
ranging over the events of nearly two miUeniums and 
conditioned by a thousand considerations of period and 
place, can only be fruitful if we are content to treat it on 
the largest lines, to recognise that the mission of the 
Church is not only to the wise but also to the unwise, 
and that, apart from ex cathedra definitions of faith and 
morals, she claims no more for the decisions of her 
ministers than is implied in that rendering of honour to 
whom honour is due, of which St. Paul spoke and which 
St. Peter would have us extend, presumably according 
to the measure of a man's office and knowledge, to all 
men whatsoever. Mistakes in regard to literature and 
learning, of which the world has never forgotten one, 
have doubtless been made by Church authorities ; and, 
whatever may fairly be urged in favour of the Roman 
Inquisitors on the ground of insufficient evidence at the 



time,i or possibly, as it may appear now, of the meta- 
physical implications of Einstein's theory of relativity,^ 
there is still reason to regret the condemnation of Galileo. 
But, when all has been said, there remains a great 
commonsense to be appreciated in the bearing of the 
Church authorities towards the problems of thought and 
the expression of them ; and because a great common- 
sense, therefore a great humanity. We can see this at 
once as regards the Scriptures, if we are willing to con- 
cede that the continuous purpose of the Church was to 
give them protection against rash or paradoxical or 
political usage ; and we can see it again as regards 
secular literature, if we are ready to admit that the 
perpetual purification of Christian civilisation from alien 
and antagonistic influences was legitimately the Church's 
concern. There has been no real difference of principle in 
these matters between the attitude of the Church towards 
the household of faith and the attitude of the Englishman 
in liis most religious post-Reformation phases towards 
his family. Each discovers a soHcitude to maintain the 
divinity that hedges in the Bible ; and in each there is to 
be found a like desire to put a ban upon books that 
inculcate spiritual error. We may detect exaggeration 
in such a theory of verbal inspiration as Protestantism 
once proclaimed, and find entertainment in the mutability 
of standards, which could evoke from Miss Broughton 
the remark that she had begun as Zola and ended as 
Miss Yonge, but these, if we will, crude efforts to give the 
Bible a unique position and to keep fiction free from 
taint should be proof enough that the more discreet 
attempt of the Catholic Church to safeguard the honour 
of Scripture and the purity of faith and etliics is in the 
same line of conduct with much that is instinctive in 
those who like her least. 

^ Cf. Huxley, Life and Letters, ii, p. 113. 
2 See Nordmann, Einstein and the Universe, p. a6, 


To these general considerations may fairly be added 
another which, if it were more usually apprehended, 
must tend towards the removal of whole mountains 
of prejudice. The notion that the Church is essentially 
obscurantist could hardly survive if her philosophy were 
generally familiar. No theory of knowledge has, in fact, 
ever presented a nobler conception of the intellect, or 
attached greater weight to the claims of evidence than 
hers. According to Catholic epistemology, the intellect 
lies open to the light of truth, *' sees,'* as we say, 
" straight," and does not of itself lapse into error. If 
error occurs, we must recognise that, as the scholastics 
argued, it comes accidentally {per accidens) — is, in fact, 
the result of some intrusion of the will, of some delusive 
association of ideas, of some indolent neglect to apply 
the tests of reason to each separate step in an argument, 
or, perhaps, of what we can only describe by analogy as a 
blind spot in the eye of the mind. The intellect, as God 
made it and meant it, is within its limitations utterly 
trustworthy — a sound organ, well-conceived; and the 
evidence admitted at this bar of judgment should 
furnish, according to its measure and cogency, the sure 
criterion of truth. 

Obscurantism, then, if we mean by it any deprecia- 
tion of reason or disregard of evidence, is no feature of 
the mind of the Church ; and, in every case where it is 
alleged, we might do wisely to make certain at the outset 
that we do not accuse those of darkening counsel whose 
real purpose is to insist upon a fullness of demonstration 
that leaves no place of entry for paradox or prejudice. 

The Church, it has been somewhere said, came into 
the world with a book in her hand, but that book not the 
Bible. The fact, if its significance had been appreciated 
in this country, should have saved much disastrous 


controversy and all the vain endeavour to set up the 
divine literature as a rival authority to the divine com- 
munity. The Hebrew Scriptures were indeed there from 
the first, although with their canon still indeterminate ; 
but the Church had yet to create a literature specifically 
her own and to recognise where the wind of divine 
inspiration, bending the frail reeds of Humanity to its 
purpose, had drawn from them heavenly music. There 
was an identity of origin and a difference of character 
between the new literature and the old ; and the 
difference, as well as the identity, had consequences 
worth observing. The Old Testament is plainly the 
history of a nation ; the New the biography of a Person. 
But this is not all. In the history of the Chosen People, 
with its constant exhibition by precept and example of 
the conditions upon which alone a society may hope to 
maintain itself in health, the whole nature of Man — of 
man in his unregenerate, fallen state — is analysed and 
displayed. To this end an almost, or quite exhaustive 
number of literary forms are utilised. By chronicle and 
narrative, by statute and commentary, by pastoral idyll 
and canticle of love ; by parable and sermon, dialogue 
and drama, proverb and aphorism, chant and psalm ; by 
prophecy and apocalypse ; by poetry — epic, lyric, 
elegiac ; and, as if to leave no manner untried, by that 
strange journal intime attributed to the wisest of kings 
which takes us through all the disillusionments and 
disappointments of the man of the world to the threshold 
of the house of God — by each and all of these the 
tale of human nature is unfolded. Sometimes with great 
tenderness, sometimes with sorrow and indignation, 
sometimes with satire and sarcasm, the divine afflatus, 
penetrating where it lists, has laid bare the spirit of man, 
so noble (as Pascal has told us in immortal words) and 
yet so base, so luminous and yet so blind, potentially so 



holy and yet, on occasion, if we track it to its darkest 
recesses, so ineffably foul. Here is a strange story — full of 
wonder and terror. Shall we say that it is always without 
discrimination for every eye ? 

Contrast it for a moment with the new biographical 
literature with which the Church united it. There all is 
sweetness, even in sorrow, and fullness of light, even 
against a background of uncomprehending darkness. 
Not upon all Humanity but upon One Figure only is the 
eye of the reader fixed ; and that Figure His who called 
Himself both the Son of God and of Man. In four 
biographies, in a dozen commentaries and studies, in a 
mystical vision of His Kingdom militant and triumphant, 
the Person of Christ is discovered in all its meaning. 
Are we not bound to make sure that every eye shall see 
at least its outline, not deflected by polemics, but as it 
was handed down by those who first beheld Him ? 

The Church, confronted with the charge of these two 
literatures — the one inherited, the other specifically her 
own — acted with a wisdom that, if all these things had 
not been so prejudiced by controversy, might perhaps 
have been styled consummate. Without forcing the 
pace or causing offence to Jewish prejudices she raised 
the books of the New Testament to the same level of 
honour as the Old, and in the fullness of time, focussed 
the attention of the Christian believer upon them by 
drawing as a general rule both parts of the Scripture read 
at Mass from their pages. Then, in an appropriate hour, 
the Pope of the day commissioned the best scholar of 
the time to prepare by revision and comparison of texts 
such a version of the Bible in the vulgar tongue, so far 
as the world could be said to have one, as might merit the 
stamp of authority ; and this St. Jerome, with manuscripts 
before him that no longer survive, in a grand manner 
accomplished. The canon of Scripture was not, however, 



closed, nor did the Church close it for a long wliile 
afterwards. But, when at Trent, more than eleven cen- 
turies later, the tale of the sacred books was exactly told, 
the Tridentine Fathers significantly avoided the curious 
error of leaving a long gap of empty God-forsaken years 
between the Old and New Testaments. Discontinuity 
— ^the idea of a discontinuity of divine inspiration or 
spiritual guidance — would appear on the face of it to be 
one of the surest marks of unhistorical Christianity ; and 
the recognition of the Alexandrian canon of the Jewish 
Scriptures (or, which is the same thing, of the so-called 
Apocrypha) is not only in line with the practice of Our 
Lord but indicates incidentally the historical sense of the 
CathoUc Church. 

The book which was thus finally consolidated and to 
which in this its Vulgate rendering a guarantee (not, 
indeed, as is sometimes ignorantly supposed, of absolute 
textual accuracy, but of authentic substance and freedom 
from mistakes calculated to cause error in doctrine or 
ethics 1) was ultimately accorded at Trent, satisfied the 
needs of Latin Christianity in the Dark Ages. The 
treasures of Scripture lay open ; and men were free 
to take of them what they would and could. New 
problems, however, were bound to emerge as time 
went on, as new nations grew into being or were 
brought into Christendom, and as Latin itself became 
the exclusive property of the educated few. We find 
these diflicuties troubling the peace of the two greatest 
of the mediaeval Popes. Though vernacular offices and 
a vernacular translation of part of the Bible into Slavonic 
had had a place in the conversion of the Slav peoples, 
we find Gregory VII in 1079, not perhaps without an 

^ The reader will find Vega's contemporary explanation of the intention of 
the Tridentine decree conveniently set out in Mgr. Forbes's article in The Bible : 
its Histoty, Authenticity and Authority (Sands, 1926), p. 123. 



eye upon the indeterminate position of the Slav countries 
between the Roman and Byzantine civilisations, resisting 
any further advance in that direction, on the ground that 
it would lead on to a demand for a Slavonic Bible and 
this in its turn to irreverence and error amongst those 
whose learning was too little not to be dangerous. And 
a hundred years later or more we find Iimocent III, 
confronted with the socially subversive interpretations 
of Scripture of the Waldensians, wrestling with the 
dilemma — ^which his letters on the subject enforce by 
the ancient and authoritative admonition not to cast 
pearls before swine — ^that, on the one hand, " the desire 
of understanding holy Scriptures and zeal for exhorting 
in accordance with them, is not to be reprehended but 
rather commended " and, on the other, that " the secret 
mysteries of the faith ought not to be explained to all 
men in all places, since they cannot be everywhere 
understood by all men, but only to those who can 
conceive them with a faithful mind." 

There precisely lay the difficulty, accentuated — 
tremendously accentuated — by the fact that in that still 
illiterate age the dissemination of the Bible meant in 
practice for the most part the dissemination of isolated 
words or passages wliich were learnt and quoted without 
their historical context or their complementary setting. 
About such as use Scripture so, earnest and honest souls 
as they doubtless often are, it is a great Anglican bishop 
and scholar who has said the last word ; — 

It may be objected that devout students of the Bible have 
often proved the sternest fanatics. But the answer is easy. 
They were fanatics because they were students not of the whole 
Bible but of some one fragment of it to which all else was 

There were Catholics in the Middle Ages, like the 

1 Westcott, The Bible in the Church, p. 13. 


Brethren of the Common Life, who saw all that was to 
be said for disseminating the Scriptures broadcast, and 
other Catholics, like the bishops of the South of France 
and North of Spain, who saw all that was to be said 
against it ; and these two schools could alike find sup- 
port in Innocent's classical letter on the subject. Time 
and place and circumstance govern such matters as they 
govern other similar matters in secular statesmanship ; 
and we shall, perhaps, not feel, on any large view of the 
subject, that it is of vital consequence to our philosophy 
whether those Bibles " fair " and " old " and " written 
in English " to whose existence in the hands of " good 
and CathoHc folk " Blessed Thomas More bears witness 
in his Dialogue, were, as Cardinal Gasquet supposes, of 
Catholic origin or, as Miss Deanesly maintains, no more 
than " the Wycliffite text with the prologue omitted."^ 
Englishmen might judge the whole question more 
easily if they could rid themselves of the belief that 
Rome has cause to fear a dispassionate study of the Bible. 
On the main issues between Catholicism and Protestant- 
ism she had in point of fact everything to gain from it. 
No reasonable man who regards the Old Testament as 
the Word of God can possibly suppose that a hierarchy 
or sacrifice or ritual is displeasing to the Deity ; no 
Christian who calmly considers the terms of the Petrine 
commission is likely to relieve himself of the suspicion 
that Christ would never have delivered those tremendous 
words if they were to serve no better purpose than to 
mislead the most part of Christendom for fifteen cen- 
turies ; nor, again, is a candid examination of the sixth 
chapter of St. Jolin's Gospel calculated to encourage the 
opinion that the doctrine of transubstantiation is a fable 
fondly imagined. It was not of the trained legal intel- 
ligence of More or the finely balanced criticism of 

^ Deanesly, The Lollard Bible , p. 15. 



Erasmus that the Church had good reason to be afraid, 
but of those whose judgment was warped by partial or 
poHtical or acquisitive aims. We are too far removed 
from Waldensians and Lollards and Fifth Monarchy Men 
to regard their ideas with anything but a mild surprise, 
but ifwe come into contact with the agitator who exhibits 
Christ as a wild revolutionary, the Communist who, with 
a sublime disregard of the point of the story of Ananias 
and Saphira, affirms that the New Testament is opposed 
to private property, or the Christian Scientist who 
deludes the credulous into neglecting the aid of the 
skilled physician, we may begin to see how difficult is 
this question of placing a book, invested with divine 
authority, at the mercy of every private interpreter. 

Interrogate the evidence that hits us, as the phrase is, 
in the eye, v/hen we look at the empty niches or defaced 
screens of the old English Cathedrals, of what the 
Puritans with their zeal made of the First (or, as the 
Anglican Table has it, of the Second) Commandment ; 
consider the joyless Sabbaths which the Evangelicals with 
their piety substituted for the Christian Sunday ; deplore 
that loss oijoie de vivre, which, as Mill observes, is always 
to be found where the wave of Puritanism has passed ; 
or, again, take that passage at the beginning oiF " The 
Light that Failed " where one of the great masters of 
English fiction and English psychology has sketched 
the character of Dick Heldar's doubtless well-meaning 
guardian i ; and what dangerous catchwords the '* Open 
Bible " and the private interpretation of it begin to appear ! 

1 " Her religion, manufactured in the main by her own intelligence and a 
keen study of the Scriptures, was an aid to her in this matter (viz. the home- 
training of Dick Heldar). At such times as she herself was not personally 
displeased with Dick, she left him to understand that he had a heavy account to 
settle with his Creator ; wherefore Dick learned to loathe his God as intensely 
as he loathed Mrs. Jennett ; and this is not a wholesome frame of mind for the 



"It was noticeable," says the same great novelist 
just quoted, in speaking of two army chaplains, " that 
whenever the Church of England dealt with a human 
problem she was very likely to call in the Church of 
Rome." 1 And it is precisely a problem in humanity, 
not an academical thesis, that we have to do with here. 
Talk as we may about the advantages of the open Bible, 
nothing is more apparent than that the Bible makes large 
demands in respect of historical perspective and religious 
thought before we begin to understand it, nothing is 
written larger upon the face of history than the necessity 
of protecting young, ignorant, and, in periods or countries 
of small education, even average Humanity, from the 
singular constructions that private persons read into its 
teaching. The policy of the Church in dealing with the 
problem was to insure that the milk of the Word should 
be taken before the meat. This was the extent of her 
offence — or, as some may think, the measure of her 

The mission of the Church, as we have to remember 
if we would understand all her mind, was both to the 
wise and the unwise, the learned and the ignorant ; and 
from both she asked the same thing — that regard for 
established, authoritative judgments wliich is the begin- 
ning of scholarship and the first condition of receptive- 
ness in the study of all great works of literature or, for 
that matter, of art. Of the student, indeed, she asked 
something more than this temperamental conservatism. 
Of him she required a thoroughness of investigation and 
fullness of deliberation that left no place for the mere 
pleasure of saying some new thing. Paradox had no 
charm for her, nor platitude any terrors. She saw no 
reason to suppose that the latest opinion embodied of 
necessity the soundest knowledge. Her aim was truth, 

1 Kim, by Rudyard Kipling. 



not novelty ; and she moved, in consequence, if she 
moved at all, only by the slowest steps, insisting at 
every turn upon the most rigorous proof and the most 
rounded conclusions. 

These things again have been made a reproach to 
her, and with a certain fatuity the World has assumed 
that in every " conflict with Rome " the rebels are in the 
right. To discuss distant controversies lies beyond the 
limitations of this paper ; let one controversy, and that 
the most recent, suffice to point the moral of all. The 
tale of the Modernist Movement is now a story of 
twenty years standing ; and the very names of its 
protagonists are beginning to be forgotten. Yet in its 
time it was supposed to threaten the Church with dis- 
ruption, and there were those, doubtless, who thought 
to see in it the day of her final visitation. 

The Movement had both its critical — or perhaps more 
accurately higher-critical — and its philosophical sides. 
The former was concerned with the authenticity of 
Scripture in general and of the Pentateuch in particular ; 
the latter appeared to be content to throw writers, 
records, divine inspiration and attested fact into a melting- 
pot out of which the Christian believer might extract 
what comfort he could from the conception of truth as 
an evolutionary flux and of dogma as a mixed blend of 
fact and fiction. There was a distinction to be drawn 
between the temper of the more moderate critics and 
that of the more advanced philosophers — a distinction 
conveniently reflected for us in the memorials on the one 
hand of the late Baron Friedrich von Hiigel, of whom 
none that knew him will care to speak without giving 
God thanks for the existence of so grandly generous 
a soul, and, on the other, of Father George Tyrrell. 
This distinction was not neglected by the ecclesiastical 



A Biblical ComiTussion was appointed to consider 
certain exegetical and critical issues raised by the progress 
of the Higher Criticism. Its conclusions, whilst they did 
not promote the theory of verbal inspiration, were in 
the main conservative as regards the vexed question of 
the authorship of the Pentateuch and consequently failed 
to satisfy certain Catholic students, of whom Baron von 
Hiigel was one. An exchange of letters on the subject 
took place between him and Dr. Briggs, a Protestant 
scholar, interested in Christian reunion and the recipient 
of a personal assurance from the Pope that the findings 
of the Commission would bear no infallible character. ^ 
Nothing, in fact, in the attitude of the Church authorities 
towards the issue was in conflict with the principle of 
sufficient evidence ; nor have they in the past, as the 
controversies concerning the authenticity of the Areopa- 
gite writings and of the text relating to the Three 
Heavenly witnesses show,^ ultimately resisted the con- 
sidered pressure of Catholic scholarship. " Even now," 
as the Baron rather unkindly points out in his letter to 
Dr. Briggs, " Catholics have not had any solemn con- 
demnation of Pentateuchal criticism and the Protestant 
Churches have had three." ^ 

Most of us. Catholic or Protestant, as it is well 
sometimes to remind ourselves, are in no position to 
form a valuable or even competent private opinion upon 
this particular subject at all. Whatever we believe about 
the matter we have perforce to take from authority. 
But there has been at least enough contradiction of the 
Higher Criticism in the evidence of the Monuments to 

1 Briggs and Von Hiigel, The Papal Commission. 

^ On this see, for example. Dr. Arendzen's remarks on pp. 52, 53 of The 
Bible : its History, Authenticity and Authority. 

^ Briggs and Von Hiigel, The Papal Commission and the Pentateuch, p. 56. 
The three solemn condemnations referred to are those of Colenso, Robertson- 
Smith, and Briggs himself. 



give us pause, and enough variety in the ideas of the 
Higher Critics to make us recall the advice of one of the 
most saintly and scholarly of the Deans of St. Paul's ^ 
not to make the mistake of supposing that a position 
assailed is a position lost. The Church, desiring to 
prove all things and to hold fast that which is true, has 
done no otherwise. 

The Biblical Commission had dealt, not without 
respect, with Modernist criticism. The philosophy of 
Modernism, striking as it did at the vital distinction 
between fact and fiction, claimed the notice of a higher 
authority. Disappointed in many things, the Modernists 
had been fortunate in one. Fogazzaro, in a novel that 
ran through Europe, had attempted to confound the 
Curia with the conception of a saint ; and behold a saint, 
so far, at least, as common opinion could make him one, 
sat upon the throne of St. Peter. The life of Pius X 
has lately been written by M. Rene Bazin and included 
in that series of biographies which enforces its title of 
" Les Grands Coeurs " with the inscription " C'est le 
propre des grands coeurs de decouvrir le principal besoin 
des temps oii ils vivent et de s'y consacrer." Let those 
who make of human character a royal road to judgment, 
look first upon the portrait there depicted and then turn 
back to the volumes in which Miss Maud Petre has 
described the turgid career of Father Tyrrell ; and they 
will be at no loss to know what Modernism was not and 
what it was. Not, of course, that a reasoned answer 
to that strange attempt to discredit objective truth is 
wanting ! He who runs may read it in his own common- 
sense ; and he who stays to ponder in the famous 
Encyclical Pascendi, where also there is presented a 
statement of the heretical position so scrupulously fair 
as to draw from Tyrrell himself the remark that, if one 

1 R. W. Church. 



had not known the author of this exposition of Modern- 
ism for a subtle scholastic, one might have been tempted 
to take him for " a traitor in the orthodox camp." ^ 
It is superfluous, however, to labour the hopelessness of 
a position, whose intellectual defects were apparent, 
not only to the Pope, but even to such rationalists 
as Dr. Rashdall and Dr. Inge,^ and whose chief 
apology has been disproved by the recent revival of 
scholastic philosophy in France under the leadership of 
M. Maritain. 

It is time to pass on to the second division of the 
subject : the relations between the Church and secular 
literature. To the present writer at all events there seem 
to be few more extraordinary delusions than the popular 
belief that ecclesiastical influence operates to cramp high 
imagination and fetter the flights of the human spirit. 
Let those who doubt the capacity of Catholicism to fill 
the soul with the richest flowers of beauty take their 
stand above Florence, on the liill of San Miniato or of 
Bellosguardo, and, as they gaze at that purest and most 
marvellous product of the ecclesiastical civilisation of 
the Middle Age and review in thought all that it signifies 
and all that it contains, ask themselves in all candour 
whether there exists anything with which it may be 
compared, unless it be the lost splendour of ancient 
Athens. The weight of intellectual strength and 
aesthetic talent that lies concentrated in that single city is 
enough to make ridiculous the ignoble efforts of those 
who delve in mediaeval morasses in the hope of covering 
the mediaeval Church in mud. Only let a man take the 
highway along the hill-tops and all the ricliness of that 
time will spread out before him. 

We are concerned in particular with Literature. It is 

^ Times, Sept. 30, 1907. 

* See for Dr. Inge, The Quarterly ReiJieiv, April 1909, pp. 571-603. 



the great Florentine poet who lays bare the ultimate 
motive of all Christian writing, however imperfectly it 
be realised in practice ; who speaks of that new style 
wherein thoughts are set forth under the inspiration of 
love or, as the commentator has it, wherein we seek, not 
to say things beautifully, but to say beautiful things truly.i 
It is Dante again who, in passage after passage of tren- 
chant criticism of Popes and Cardinals, shows how free 
was opinion to rebuke sin in high places, how clear was 
the distinction in the mediaeval mind between the great 
seats of spiritual authority and those who filled them 
and — ^it might perhaps be fair to add — how little the 
authorities themselves resented attacks upon their order 
as distinct from attacks upon Christ and the Church. It 
is in Dante again that we may see, as well by the strange 
interniixture of Pagan and Christian figures as in the 
more definitely philosophical parts of the poem, how 
liberally the Church had, in the long run, dealt with 
the wisdom of the pagan world ; pondering it, purifying 
it, reconciling it to herself — a thing, now that it has been 
done, seemingly obvious and simple, but at the time 
requiring so remarkable a largeness of mind as to reduce 
to absurdity the charge that the Church is by nature 
narrow or intolerant. Where, as in the universities, 
there existed a fair field for study and combatants with 
head-pieces sufficient for the fray, there is, indeed, 
evidence enough to show that theological discussion was 
free and comprehensive. Consider St. Thomas's treat- 
ment of a familiar problem. " It seems that God does not 
exist," says the disputant in the Summa, " because . . . 
if . . . God existed, there would be no evil discoverable ; 

^ Purg. xxiv. 52-4 : 

Ed io a lui : " To mi son un che quando 

Amor mi spira, noto, ed a quel mode 
Che ditta dentro, vo significando. 



but there is evil in the world. Therefore God does not 
exist." 1 Forcible repressions of opinion certainly occur, 
but during the Middle Ages only, as Acton has been at 
some pains to point out,^ where the safety of Society or 
the State was held to be endangered. And there in all 
ages we must expect to find them. 

The Reformation introduced a new state of affairs. 
There was civil war in Christendom — a civil war whose 
drums and trumpets are still too often heard. The 
breach of Christian unity, against which it was of the 
very essence of Catholicism to contend to the last, 
brought in its train the hard necessities of warfare. The 
censorship wliich had originally come to the Church 
through the State and had in a measure entered into its 
ecclesiastical system at the Council of Nicasa stiffened into 
the Roman Index. So also in England the Anglican 
Church, at the very moment when, under Elizabeth and 
Charles I, it was, as some of its most ardent members 
consider, most truly, itself, adopted, owing to a like pres- 
sure of circumstance, the drastic expedient of the Court 
of High Commission. And in each case the motive of 
the authorities was doubtless the same — an anxiety, not 
as to the soundness of their cause but as to the sufficiency 
of public knowledge to discredit the criticism of it. 
Nobody, of course, can estimate how much was lost to 
literature by these alarms. But the words of Erasmus, 
who was anything but blind to the faults of the Catholic 
clergy, may well indicate in what direction judgment 
should lean throughout that long, disastrous era of 
internecine war in Christendom, the beginning of which 
he saw and deprecated : "I abhor the Evangelics 

^ I owe this illustration to Mr. Cecil Chesterton, whom I recollect to have 
heard use it many years ago. I have shortened the stages of the argument. It 
will be found in full in the Summa Theologica, Part I, Q. II. 

* Acton, History of Freedom, p. 150. 



because it is through them that Literature is everywhere 
declining and upon the point of perishing." ^ 

In England, at all events, it would appear to be true 
to say that the operation of the Penal Laws, rather than 
any repressive attitude on the part of the Roman Curia, 
took from English Catholics for a time their power to 
" pull their weight " in the majestic galley which carries 
the genius of Humane Letters down the stream of time. 
They did not fail their country in literature between the 
Reformation and the Revolution, nor have they done 
so from the era of Catholic Emancipation onwards till 
the present day. Even if we dismiss as unsubstantial 
the shadowy claim of Catholicism — not, however, as 
two distinguished Catholic writers of the last century, 
Richard Simpson and W. S. Lilly, have shown without its 
curious plausibilities — to possess the soul of Shakespeare,^ 
no one will challenge the Catholic title to Southwell 
and to Crashaw ; delicate spirits, holding open, amid 
the fierce warfare of their time, the fast-closing door 
between England and the Holy See. Before that door 
was finally closed the Church could point to greater 
names than these. Dry den was hers by good conviction,^ 
and Pope by right of birth. And to Dryden, it has 
been said by one high authority, that *' the debt of later 
English prose is inestimable," * and of Pope, by another, 
that " with him the classical spirit in English poetry 
reached its acme." ^ 

These debts of English Letters were, unfortunately, 
repaid by the maintenance in England of a penal code 

1 Quoted in the EncycL. Brit, article on Erasmus, Cf. his observation in 
Ep. mvi : " The triumph of the Lutherans is the death of good learning. 
Wealth and wives are their real objects " 

2 See W. S. Lilly, Studies in Religion and Literature, i. 

* Those who doubt it should look at the late Sir Adolphus Ward's observa- 
tions on the point {Camb. Hist, of English Literature, yiii. pp. 45-47). 

* Camb. Hist. 0^ Engl. Lit., viii. p. 56. ^ Ibid. ix. p. 89. 



described by the late Regius Professor of Modern 
History at Oxford ^ as " not much less atrocious " than 
that Irish code which Burke characterised as '* a machine 
of wise and elaborate contrivance ... as well fitted for 
the oppression, impovetishment and degradation of a 
people and the debasement in them of human nature 
itself as ever proceeded from the perverted ingenuity of 
man." ^ In the circumstances Catholics may be excused 
if they had little to show during that time in a sphere 
where education means so much and love of England 
so much more. As soon as the ban was removed, the 
old intellectual vitality of English Catholicism burst out 
again. Lingard, indeed, had led the revival of Catholic 
letters in this country, even before it was due, by the 
massive volumes in which, with an admirable freedom 
from bitterness, he told the story of the Reformation 
as it really was — volumes which themselves were a 
marked influence in promoting the cause of Emancipa- 
tion and upon which an authority whose dispassionate- 
ness will not be called in dispute was able, nearly a 
century later, to pass this judgment : 

It is not unjust ... to say that the history of the Refor- 
mation, or that of a particularly complicated section of it, 
was never written with more discretion than it was by him. 
On the one hand he refused to shut his eyes, like some other 
judges of conservative tendencies, to certain aspects of the 
conflict — the dark side of monasticism, for instance. On 
the other he declined to launch forth into discussions of the 
general consequences of the English Reformation.^ 

The book was attacked, as any good book on a 
controversial subject is pretty sure to be, from both sides 
— by Anglicans like Southey, eager to prove the Church 
of England all they took it for, and Catholics like 

1 Prof. H. C. Davis. * See the Camb. Modem Hist., x. p. 620. 

3 Sir A. W. Ward, Camb. Hist, of Engl. Lit., xiv. p. 55. 



Bishop Milner, who wished to make out the pre- 
Reformation Church in England purer than it was. Yet 
it served to vindicate the capacity of Catholics to write 
accurate and dispassionate history and, incidentally, 
through the refusal of the Roman authorities to condemn 
it at Milner' s instance,^ the desire of the Papacy that 
history should be so written. 

This honourable effort to extenuate nothing that 
deserves to be condemned in the chronicles of Catholicism 
was apparent, almost to a fault, in the life and writings 
of the eminent and learned Acton. There was an 
entertaining humour in his protest that a great Anglican 
bishop 2 had, in his *' History of the Papacy," let the 
Popes off too lightly. Certainly, Acton, with his stern 
resolve to bring the rulers of every Christian century, 
without extenuation of circumstance, before the bar of 
Christian ethics, and his scrupulous fear, so eloquently 
confessed in a fine fragment of his writing,^ of unduly 
favouring his compatriots or co-religionists, was in no 
position to throw his mind into the common stock and 
afford to English CathoUcs just the kind of assistance 
which, at the moment, would have been most acceptable 
to them. Yet in the retrospect — if I may be allowed 
here to discharge a personal obligation — there seem to 
me to have been, within living memory, few more 
cogently persuasive careers than his. Here was one 
acutely sensitive to every lapse from charity and freedom 
on the great stage of ecclesiastical affairs. Here was one 
of whom it might have been said, as it was said of 
Friedrich von Hugel, that he gave one the idea of being 
ready to follow truth wherever he found it. Here was 
one whose first considerable literary enterprise — " a 

1 Camb. Hist. Engl. Lit., xiv; p. 56. 2 Creighton. 

3 The document found amongst his papers after his death in which he gives 
in an imaginative form the ideals at which he aimed. It will be found on 
pp. xxxviii and xxxix of the volume called The History of Freedom. 



quarterly/' it has been claimed, " far surpassing, alike in 
knowledge, range and certainty any of the other quarter- 
lies, political or ecclesiastical, or specialist which the 
nineteenth century produced " ^ — had failed, not indeed, 
as has been alleged, owing to any direct censure from 
Rome, but through a certain temerity or want of tact 
which obscured the real service it was rendering to 
English Catholicism by its frankly dispassionate treat- 
ment of matters hitherto discoloured by apology. Here 
was one, again, who had spent his strength in opposing 
the Infallibility decree of 1870 in the, as time proved, 
totally erroneous conviction that it would promote 
political to the prejudice of spiritual influences in the 
policy of the Vatican. And yet here, too, was one who 
could write that " knowledge has a freedom in the 
Catholic Church which it can find in no other religion " ^ ; 
who could say that he had never thought of doubting 
any one of the Church's dogmas ; who could protest 
that the Catholic Communion was dearer to him than 
life itself ? ^ No recent career in this country so well 
exemplifies the ultimate compatibility between the nobler 
meanings of liberty and authority ; none shows more 
clearly that, with men of the finest intellect and fullest 
knowledge, an Englishman's cult of freedom is no 
invincible bar to Catholic unity as Rome conceives it. 

Between these two great historians there towers, in 
order of time, the figure of Newman. His vital con- 
tribution to the truth of history had indeed been antici- 
pated, though in a purely intellectual manner, by Gibbon 
who, with a flash of genius altogether extraordinary 
at that time in England, had as a boy perceived the 

1 The Home and foreign Re^ie^vo. Cf. with this estimate of its value by 
Figgis and Laurence that of Matthew Arnold : " Perhaps in no organ of criti- 
cism in this country was there so much knowledge, so much play of mind " 
(quoted in Lord Acton and his Circle, p. Ixxvii). 

* History of Freedom, p. 461. 2 Ibid. p. xxvi. 



historical fallacy in the Anglican position and caused a 
priest to receive him into the Catholic Church. New- 
man repeated the discovery but invested it, as it deserves, 
with all the charm of poetry. Intent, as his early inti- 
mates knew,^ upon the quest of Christianity in its first 
begirmings, he gradually realised that the original design 
and essential features of the Primitive Church must be 
sought, not through any imagined reconstruction of the 
sixteenth century, vitiated inevitably as this must be by 
a thousand anachronisms, but rather by penetrating to 
the core of the only existing fabric possessed both of 
unassailable antiquity and unbroken development. He 
set forth the pliilosophy of organic evolution as applied 
to the idea of a historic church in his Essay on Develop- 
ment ; all the romance of liis quest appeared later in his 
famous "Apologia." 

The two essential qualities of Catholic Literature, as 
of all literature that deserves to move the spirit of man, 
are truth and beauty ; and Cardinal Newman, by virtue 
of liis singular gifts stands between those, like Lingard 
and Acton (and, one might add, his own scrupulous 
biographer, Wilfrid Ward) who reflect Catholicism in the 
mirror of a logical and accurate prose and those who 
catch its hymns of colour in the poet's prismatic glass. 
lAs the Church was well served during the last century 
by certain pre-eminent lovers of truth, so also by certain 
pre-eminent votaries of beauty. There was Aubrey de 
Vere, very much a scholar and very much a gentleman ; 
there was Faber with his high songs of praise ; there was 
Coventry Patmore, the poet of married love ; there was 
Francis Thompson with his mastery of sound and 
colour ; there were Lionel Johnson and Gerald Manley 
Hopldns and Alice Meynell. Nor does ability now 
begin to fail us. Cardinal Gasquet and Dr. Butler 

^ Church, Occasional Papers, ii. p. 473. 



have their place among EngUsh historians. Mr. Beiloc 
takes rank with them and also with such gifted writers 
of poetry and prose as Mr. Chesterton and Mr. Baring ; 
whilst to any mention of these three makers of belles- 
lettres, it is obvious to add that of two brilliant dialec- 
ticians — Father Knox and Mr. Woodruff. All these — 
and others I should have liked to name both in England 
and Ireland — whilst they have done something to restore 
English Hterature to its proper place in Catholic civili- 
sation, afford sufficient evidence of the versatility of 
Catholic writers to convince even the most sceptical 
that Catholic talent is neither hampered nor constrained. 
But as to that Father Knox has already said the last word : 

I had been encouraged to suppose and fully prepared to 
find that the immediate result of submission to Rome would be 
the sense of having one's liberty cramped and restricted in a 
number of ways, necessary no doubt to the welfare of the 
Church at large, but galling to the individual. ... As I say, 
I was quite prepared for all this : the curious thing is that 
my experience has been exactly the opposite. I have been 
overwhelmed with the feeling of liberty — the glorious liberty 
of the sons of God. ^ 

Doubtless, however, if our critics choose to have it 
so, Catholic writers are still in a manner circumscribed. 
When all allowance has been made for individual 
vagaries and personal idiosyncrasies, they are still bound 
by order and authority — by the order inherent in beauty 
and the authority implicit in truth. To them, but with 
a deeper meaning than the poet dreamed of, it has been 
whispered that 

Beauty is truth, truth beauty — that is all 
Ye know on earth and all ye need to know. 

Shall they, then, be blamed if, in a world confused by 

^ A Spiritual ^neid, p. 247. 


a thousand philosophies and a country rent by ecclesi- 
astical dissensions, they set forth, with as little challenge 
as may be, the merits of coherent and lucid thought and 
of a culture whose monuments are the glory of every 
art — they, the heirs of all the Christian ages, and their 
title, if such considerations move us, fully proved by 
time ? Shall they not rather be ashamed if they sit all 
the day silent, nursing in selfish contentment their 
treasures of truth and beauty ? Yet, because Truth may 
come to seem no more than a cold bath of logic and 
Beauty repel by frozen regularity, the last and loveUest 
word of all, as between those who find in Catholic 
literature the true lights of the world and those who take 
it for a vain phosphorescence cunningly contrived, is 


SCIENCE (i 829-1929) 

BY Sir BERTRAM C. A. WINDLE, F.R.S., Sc.D., Ph.D., of 
St. Michael's College in the University of Toronto 


It is more than improbable that any living person can 
remember the time when it was not assumed as a common 
place that between revealed religion and its exponents on 
the one hand, and science and its exponents on the other, 
there at least is — some would say must be — deadly 
enmity, and, in addition, that the bitterest — again some 
would say the ablest — opposition to science comes from 
the Catholic Church. I think that is a fair presentment 
of what is in the minds of a very large number of English 
people, readers of the daily paper and perhaps not much 
else, who think about the matter at all. 

Was that the state of mind one hundred years ago ? 
If not, how and why did such a state of affairs as we 
see to-day come into existence ? Those are the chief 
questions with which this article will concern itself. 

For the position one hundred years ago we have 
fortunately excellent evidence, for it was in 1835, which 
is quite sufficiently near to our date of commencement, 
that Wiseman — then Rector of the English College at 
Rome — delivered in the hall of the Palazzo of Cardinal 
Weld in Rome his course of lectures on " Science and 
Revealed Religion," which received so much attention and 
ran through several editions after publication. That 
which I have at my side is the fourth (English) Edition 
and appeared in 185 1. It is described as by Cardinal 
Wiseman, for such he was at the time, having become 
first Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster. It is quite 
probable that Catholics in England, not to speak of those 



outside that Church, have rather hazy ideas of Cardinal 
Wiseman, perhaps centreing round the not over-engaging 
portraits of His Eminence, which are so often to be seen. 
It may, therefore, be news to them tliat at an early age 
Wiseman was recognised as one of the leading scholars 
of the world. His " Horae Syriacae " appeared in 1827, 
when the future Cardinal was no more than twenty-five 
years of age ; it was at once hailed as a work of great 
learning and gave liim a European reputation. But not 
merely in Syriac and linguistic studies — he was indis- 
tinguishable from a native in at least six languages — was 
Wiseman a great scholar. He had a very remarkable 
knowledge of the science of his time as is exemplified in 
the lectures of which I am speaking. There, then, we 
may expect to find an answer to our first question : what 
was the state of affairs between science and religion one 
hundred years ago ? Parva componere magnis, it fell to my 
lot two years ago to write a book on similar lines, that 
is to say, discussing the " Church and its Relations with 
Science " which appeared in the Calvert Series published 
by MacmiUans, of New York. 

I have been comparing the two for the purposes of 
this article, and this remarkable fact appears that of all 
the matters which I found it necessary to touch upon 
only a very few and those, almost without exception, 
minor considerations find a place in Wiseman's two 
volumes ; and of the great mass of learned matter there 
to be discovered, ninety-nine per cent, passed without 
notice in my book. Am I to plead guilty to neglect of 
duty in my book ? Not at all ; the subjects of import- 
ance had completely changed in the century wliich 
extends between the two publications. Let us look for. 
a moment at Wiseman's book. The first two lectures 
covering one hundred and tliirty-five pages are devoted 
entirely to the study of languages, a subject which the 



author was especially interested in and well able to 
handle. But to-day, except perhaps in relation to 
exegetical matters, it would hardly be thought of in 
connection with religion and certainly in no way enters 
into any sort of dispute that it may have with science. 

The next two lectures, " On the Natural History of 
the Human Race," followed by the last two in the first 
volume, " On the Natural Sciences," look as if they 
ought to contain much controversial matter, and the 
topics in question occupy a large part of the space in my 
little book. And, as a matter of fact, here we do come 
on some things that even to-day are under discussion, 
but surprisingly few. To begin with, Wiseman based 
his ethnological studies, which were extraordinarily 
wide for a man of his age and special line of life, on 
Blumenbach's catalogue of skulls — a valuable but long 
out-of-date work — and on what is known as Camper's 
angle, which is a matter which interests physical anthro- 
pologists to-day little if at all. And what the writer 
is really concerned with is the unity of the human race 
then, though not now, a matter of dispute. Hence his 
controversy is merely one of liistorical interest to-day. 

When we get to the Natural Sciences we find a 
section devoted to another extinct controversy, the real 
or apparent death of Christ upon the cross. There were 
persons who suggested that He deUberately feigned death 
in order to lead up to a sham resurrection, but with such 
utterly negligible people Wiseman does not waste time. 

But it appears that it was then urged that He was not 
dead but in a faint or some such unconscious state, 
recovering from which he arose and left His sepulchre. 
I can remember, when a young graduate, that a man, then 
of some note in the scientific world, the late Dr. Samuel 
Haughton, F.R.S., preached and published a sermon, of 
which he sent me a copy, on this very subject. But that 



is more than forty years ago, and I do not remember that 
this point, which to anyone familiar with Pathology is 
grossly absurd, has crossed the controversial horizon 
since that time and, therefore, suppose it to be, as it 
should be, a dead issue. 

But there is one point at any rate of first-class interest 
to-day and that is the evolutionary theory of Lamarck, 
which appeared in his " Plailosophie Zoologique," which 
was published in 1809 and was carefully studied by 
Wiseman — an excellent instance of liis omnivorous 

He describes Lamarck's derivation of man's body 
from an animal ancestor as a " degrading theory " and 
dismisses the idea on scientific lines but in no way 
alludes to any difficulty raised by the Biblical account. 
The fact is that the evolutionary controversy was but a 
cloud the size of a man's hand on the horizon at the time, 
and Wiseman neither was nor could be expected to be 
aware of what was coming. 

Yet it is interesting to note that he actually got hold 
of the great factors on which the evolutionary theory and 
controversy came to be built. " For," he writes, " we 
have proved both from analogy and from direct examples : 
first, that there is a perpetual tendency, I might say, a 
striving, in nature, to raise up in our species " — he is 
discussing man for the time being — " varieties, often of 
a very extraordinary character, sometimes approximating, 
in a marked manner, to the peculiar and specific dis- 
tinctives of a race different to that in which they arise ; 
and, secondly, that these peculiarities may be communi- 
cated through successive generations, from father to 
son." It is the evolutionary theory in a nutshell, and it 
is most interesting to note the evidence wliich he brings 
forward for his contention, plain proof that he possessed 
a highly scientific mind. 




In the portion of these chapters devoted to geology 
there are evidences of old controversies, for example, 
that concerning the meaning of the " days " of creation. 
Criticising a work which had demanded the rigidly 
literal interpretation of the word he says : " I do not 
advocate the prolongation of the days to periods ; but 
I think it very wrong to call men infidels for doing so, 
when only such erroneous grounds are given to the 
contrary. The terms used to express the sun's standing 
still, are just as literal and express as those used in the 
history of creation ; yet no one hesitates to take them 
figuratively, because demonstrated laws of physics 
compel us to do so." ^ His discussion of the topic of 
the Flood is vitiated by the ignorance of the day, for quite 
naturally it is founded on Dean Buckland's then very 
important but now almost forgotten work " Reliquiae 
Diluvianae," which appeared in 1823, and with which 
Wiseman was well acquainted, as he was with the first 
edition of Lyell's classic work " The Principles of 
Geology," which made so great an impression upon 
Darwin, and indeed on the scientific world generally, 
and which appeared in 1830-33. 

We now know that by far the greater number 
of phenomena, such as boulders, perched rocks and 
the like which, Wiseman, following Bucldand, relied 
upon, were really the relics of the last glacial period, 
of which at the time nothing was known. Buckland 
was the prophet of what has been called the diluvial 
hypothesis, which declared for the action of flood waters. 
The world of learning had to pass subsequently through 
the drift hypothesis which attributed these things to 
deposits formed by icebergs and floating sheets of ice 

^ The use of a term of unindicated length, instead of a day of twenty -four 
hours as a translation of the Hebrew YOM is legitimised by the Church since the 
time of Wiseman. 



before it arrived at the conclusions, wtiich do not look 
like being shaken, respecting the action of glaciers. So 
much for Wiseman's first volume. As to the second, 
it is occupied with Early History, Archaeology, and 
Oriental Literature, and need not detain us. Before 
leaving the Cardinal, however, it may not be amiss to 
note that his attitude to possible new discoveries was 
precisely what Pope Leo XIII afterwards enjoined on 
Catholics, the traditional attitude, so very different from 
what is attributed to those of the Faith. Referring to 
the then supposed dates of early occurrences he wrote : 
" But suppose it should he proved th2Lt all the phenomena 
I have described belong to an earUer era, should I regret 
the discovery ? Most assuredly not : for never should I 
fear, and consequently never should I regret, any onward 
step in the path of science." And he proceeds to state 
that if an accurate geological chronology should yet 
come to pass showing how much earlier events were, 
than uninstructed persons had taken them to be, he 
would resign liis present ideas " without a struggle." 

So much for Wiseman's interesting book. It shows 
clearly that whilst there were small disputes perhaps of 
general warfare between religion and science it may fairly 
be said that there was none of great importance. 

That there is to-day and has been for many years we 
are all well aware, and have now to seek the explanation 
of how this has come to pass. 

Let us first of all examine the century-old positions 
of the two present antagonists beginning with religion. 
And here we may count out the Catholic Church in 
England for — ^with one exception yet to be fully dealt 
with — she was out of the picture. She was just 
emerging from the catacombs and from more than 
three hundred years of more or less brutal oppression, 
and she was far too busy in Hcking her wounds and 



repairing her breaches, bodily and otherwise, to have 
time to spare for such difficult controversies as were 
now to become apparent. And as far as the great non- 
CathoUc majority of the population were concerned it 
is probably not unfair to say that, so far as they thought 
about the matters at all, they more or less accepted the 
Usherian chronology and the Miltonic notion of the 
creation as given in " Paradise Lost." 

As to the scientific side, it had been very Httle 
affected by Lamarck, and the same may be said of 
Chambers' — at first anonymously published — " Vestiges 
of the Natural History of Creation," which appeared in 
1844. And when the new ideas of Darwin and Wallace 
were made known the leaders of biological science, such 
as Sir Richard Owen, were little prepared to welcome 

Into this comparatively placid pool there fell two 
very disturbing stones, the ripples of whose fall have very 
little diminished even to-day. Let us first of all consider 
the earlier in time, though the later in actual effect — the 
science of Prehistoric Archaeology, whose father was a 
Catholic priest — not by any means the only one who 
has occupied such a position of honourable paternity — 
Father McEnery, for many years chaplain at Tor Abbey, 
near Torquay, who from 1 825-1 841 when he died, 
carried out constant personal investigations at that 
famous spot Kent's Cavern. 

He published nothing during his lifetime, and at his 
death those who cleared up his affairs appear to have 
destroyed some of his papers, the only wonder being 
that they did not make a bonfire of the whole lot, for no 
one at that time could have supposed them to contain 
anything of interest except to the owner. Fortunately, 
the bulk was preserved, and still more fortunately they 
fell into the hands of a sympathetic and understanding 



local antiquary, the late Mr. Pengelly, who published an 
abstract of them in 1859 and the entire matter ten years 
later. But prior to this publication Boucher de Perthes, 
in excavations at Abbeville, had found rude flint imple- 
ments in 1838 at which, for some years, the scientific 
world turned up its nose in true scientific scorn. In 
1858 Hugh Falconer, a distinguished English geologist, 
visited the spot, saw the specimens, and was much 

He induced Prestwich, another geologist, and John 
Evans, a leading antiquarian, to visit de Perthes in the 
following year, and their adhesion to his views converted 
the scientific world. Since that time it has become 
abundantly evident that the Usherian chronology — 
never accepted by the CathoHc Church — ^was wholly 
inaccurate and inadequate, and indeed the same may 
be said of that wliich is read in the " Martyrologium 
Romanum" in religious houses in the CathoHc Church. 
The Church has not expressed any opinion formally on 
Biblical Chronology, but Archbishop Sheehan tells us 
that " it is now generally admitted that the Bible teaches 
nothing definite on the matter," and that the age of 
the human race " may be left to the investigation of 
scientists." ^ 

It is perhaps not out of place to note the important 
position which Catholic priests have taken in the domain 
of Prehistoric Archaeology since the time of McEnery. 
Passing over others who are dead the acknowledged 
doyen of the subject to-day is the Abbe Breuil, who has 
a good second in Fr. Obermaier. The vastly important 

1 Here and elsewhere under the name Sheehan, I am quoting from Apolo- 
getics and the Catholic Church, a work by the Coadjutor Archbishop of Sydney, 
Australia, written when Dr. Sheehan was a Professor at Maynooth, at the 
request of the Irish Hierarchy, and for the use of Catholic children in Irish 
schools. It has the imprimatur of the Archbishop of Dublin ; has never been 
challenged ; and may consequently be taken by me as a mean of orthodoxy. 



discoveries in China made by the Rev v. Peres Licent and 
de Chardin are known to every student of the subject, 
nor is there any greater name in ethnology, including its 
prehistoric branch, than that of Fr. W. Schmidt, S.V.D. 
It will be at once understood how disturbing an influ- 
ence the discoveries above alluded to must have had, 
and they would have had much more had it not been 
for the fact that it was only by degrees that the ideas 
spread ; that they were more or less confined to scientific 
circles ; and that they were overwhelmed by the much 
greater sensation which has now to be considered. But 
this may at once and definitely be said that they did not 
and have not troubled Catholic minds, as indeed must 
be obvious from what has been set down above. 

Whatever disturbance there may have been over this 
question of the date of man's appearance on earth, it was 
not only less than but also later than that which arose 
after the publication of Darwin's " Origin of Species by 
Natural Selection," in which were set forth the views 
independently arrived at by himself and by Alfred Russel 
Wallace. Tliis book appeared in 1 8 5 9, and " The Descent 
of Man" in 1871, after a fifth edition of the first- 
mentioned book had been issued. 

This is not the place to describe the conflict which 
arose, led from the Anglican side by Samuel Wilberforce, 
the then well-known Bishop of Oxford, who very un- 
judiciously pitting himself against Huxley at the meeting 
of the British Association in Oxford in i860, laid himself 
open to and received as severe a reproof as any public 
man has experienced. 

What we are concerned with here is the origin of the 
myth — held as fact by so many to-day — that the Catholic 
Church is inexorably opposed to this theory. Before 
entering into that history, it seems advisable to set 
down here plainly what the attitude of the Church is in 



this matter. I notice that on at least two occasions the 
present Dean of St. Paul's has told the world that the 
theory of evolution has been condemned by the Church. 
It is the only channel through which that condemnation 
has been made known, and it seems, all things considered, 
rather a curious one to have been selected. As a matter 
of fact there is not one word of truth in the statement. 
The Church has perfectly well recognised methods of 
expressing her opinions, formal and less formal. There 
has been no formal pronouncement one way or the other, 
and as regards the less formal, the attitude is entirely of 
the opposite kind. By less formal I allude — ^with the 
utmost respect — to statements covered by imprimaturs, 
that is, by official permissions to publish certain state- 
ments, after those statements have been declared by a 
competent censor appointed for the purpose, to contain 
nothing contrary to Faith and Morals. Even works 
with such imprimaturs have got upon the Index of 
Prohibited Books no doubt, but if after the passage of 
some years no challenge has been made in connection 
with such a book it may certainly be felt that its pro- 
nouncements are orthodox. Such a work is that of 
Archbishop Sheehan's, already alluded to, and with 
confidence, therefore, may be quoted what he says on 
this subject : " The Church, wliile teaching as of faith 
that God created the living tilings from which all existing 
plants and lower animals are descended, leaves us free 
to hold either the theory of Permanentism or the theory 
of Theistic Evolution. According to the former, God 
by a direct act created each species separately : according 
to the latter. He caused some or all species to develop in 
course of time from one or more directly-created stocks, 
or from inanimate matter." ^ And, to complete the 

1 Vol. ii. p. 43. There follows a condemnation of Materialistic Evolution 
where God's action is denied. 



matter on the question of the origin of man's body, the 
same book states ^ : " If the proof were forthcoming 
to-morrow that the body of the first man was evolved 
from the lower animals, it would not be found to con- 
tradict any solemn, ordinary or official teaching of the 
Church." After further stating that the use of the theory 
of Evolution as a working hypothesis is free from the 
slightest objection, the book goes on to state that until 
science can bring forward irrefutable proof — as she has 
not yet done — that the body of ma'n was so evolved, the 
Church, in continuation of her invariable policy of not 
changing her views unless it is obvious that such change 
is necessary, will accept the " traditional and obvious 
interpretation of the second chapter of Genesis, that the 
body of Adam was created directly by God." All this is 
so clear and direct that it ought to be needless to point 
to the books by Canon de Dorlodot, Fr. Wasmann, S.J., 
the present writer, and others which have appeared under 
imprimatur in the past few years, and in which similar 
statements have been set down, to show what ignorant 
and ridiculous rubbish has been uttered about this 
*' condemnation " and about the attitude of the Church 
in this matter generally. 

That matter being cleared up, let us return to our 
quest. There is no sort of doubt that the originator of 
the myth was one man, and that man none other than 
Thomas Henry Huxley, and the way in which it origin- 
ated was as follows. In 1871 Professor St. George 
Mivart brought out his " Genesis of Species," which 
rapidly went to a second edition. Its author was a 
Fellow of the Royal Society and a man in the first rank 
of morphologists, on the same plane as Huxley, and 
he devoted the greater part of this book to a purely 
morphological and scientific criticism of Darwin's idea, 

1 Vol. ii. p. 51. 


a criticism which produced considerable effect ; one, too, 
which he was perfectly competent and most entirely 
entitled to make. The latter part of his book was 
directed to showing that in so far as the theory was 
looked upon as a method of creation by God it received not 
merely no condemnation but rather support from the 
writings of the earlier fathers, particularly St. Augustine 
of Hippo, and from later writers like Suarez the well- 
known Jesuit scholastic. Any rational man would have 
supposed that the Darwinian camp would at least be 
gratified at this defence of their orthodoxy : was such 
the case ? Not a bit of it. Huxley was at once up in 
arms. His line of argument seems to have been some- 
thing like this : " Mivart is a Catholic. Mivart has 
attacked the theory which Darwin has set forth and of 
which I approve, and Mivart has done this because it is 
contrary to Catholic teaching, and if he says it isn't, I'll 
show him that it is." There follows the well-known 
tale of how Huxley " tore the heart out of Suarez during 
a summer afternoon spent in the library " at St. Andrew's 
University ; how he published what he supposed to be 
his demolition of Mivart ; how he and Darwin (who 
never doubted Huxley's capability for demolishing 
anybody) exulted over the matter. Are not all these 
tilings written in the correspondences and memoirs of 
the time ? ^ As to the orthodoxy of Mivart's view there 
is no doubt. I knew him well for a time, and before 
disease had — as I think — caused a change in his attitude, 
not towards science and the Church but towards other 
things, I once asked him what reception his book had 
received at Rome when he told me that the then Sovereign 
Pontiff had sent him the honorary degree of Doctor of 
Philosophy as a token of his feelings towards the book. 

1 The reader will find the whole story set forth by the present writer in the 
Dublin Re'vieiv of a few years ago. 



As to Huxley and Suarez, I have never taken the trouble to 
look into the matter, since it is one of small consequence, 
but I loiow enough of Suarez and of scholastic philo- 
sophy which it is my business to teach, to feel sure that 
Huxley, with his complete ignorance of the intensely 
technical language of that pliilosophy, could not possibly 
have comprehended what he was reading, however much 
he imagined that he did, and I am sure that he honestly 
felt that he did. He wanted to find a certain teaching 
there and he found it. He is not the only man who has 
found in a book, not what it contained in the opinions of 
those qualified to express an opinion, but what he went 
out to find. At any rate, from that time Huxley never 
ceased to proclaim in and out of season that the Catholic 
Church was the deadly enemy of evolution and of all 
scientific progress, and even went so far as to exult the 
more over evolution because it was something that the 
Church would have nothing to do with, an ignorant 
and not very philosopliical attitude. 

Huxley was a man of great intellectual powers. He 
could write excellent English and speak it too. He had 
many admirable qualities — ^no one denies it — and he 
exercised enormous influence in England and did, in 
fact, not only make science respectable, as someone 
remarked, but even caused a large number of people 
who did not know much about it to regard any attack 
on science — even on what passed for such at the moment 
— as almost lese-majeste and actually to believe that 

" When science has discovered something more 
We shall be happier than we were before." 

an attitude of mind characteristic of those buoyant days 
before it became obvious that science was capable also of 
discovering quite a lot of things which can make us 
much less happy than we were before, as exemplified 



in the late war. We Catholics to-day are indebted to 
Huxley for the opinion which some of our fellow- 
countrymen hold of us to-day as enemies of science and 
in particular as stubborn opponents of the theory of 

Huxley had his adjuvants, as the medical phrase runs, 
for he was assisted by two books of which something 
must now be said, since they have exercised great influ- 
ence in creating the myth to which I have been drawing 
attention. The first of these is Draper's " Conflict 
between ReUgion and Science," first published in 1874. 
Its main thesis may be summed up in the statement of its 
writer : "It has come to tliis that Roman Christianity 
and science are recognised by their respective adherents as 
being absolutely incompatible ; they cannot exist 
together ; one must yield to the other ; manldnd must 
make its choice — it cannot have both." I have italicised 
certain words because they exhibit the animus and the 
ignorance of the writer. Being a chemist by profession 
he must have been aware of the existence of such a man 
as Lavoisier, often called the Father of Modern Chemistry, 
who was slain by the materialists of the day, announcing 
that they had no need of men of learning, with his crucifix 
in his hand, a fervent son of that very Church denounced 
by Draper. But that is but one of scores, nay hundreds 
of similar inaccuracies which have been pointed out time 
after time and make it astonishing that a respectable firm 
should republish, in a series containing so many dis- 
tinguished works, a book of this kind without one word 
of excuse or explanation. 

It would have been necessary, in any case, to mention 
their names in an article such as this, but here is as good 
a place as another to remark that Pasteur and Mendel, 
the two greatest names in biology of the past half century 
or more, were both of them " respective adherents " of 



science and of the Church so ignorantly denounced by 

The other book is one of quite a different type, for 
White, its author, was after all a man of some erudi- 
tion, and though he commits liimself to a number of 
absurd and inaccurate statements, the worst perhaps is 
that in which he speaks of Draper's book as " a work 
of great ability." He is less ignorant than that author, 
but liis whole thesis is based on a mistaken notion. 
That new discoveries have been always and everywhere 
attacked when made known is a commonplace. We 
know that it has been so in our own times and in those 
before them, teste Jenner et al. And we know that the 
attacks have come from contemporary men of science — 
from whom else could they have come ? But long 
ago there were few men of science even of learning 
who were not clerics, and when that was the case the 
opposition to new ideas naturally came from clerics 
because there was no other source from which it could 
come. To talk, however, of such a state of affairs as 
the war of religion with science is as absurd as it would 
be to describe the undoubted opposition which Darwin 
met from Owen and others of his contemporary scientists 
as the war of science with science. 

My space is limited and the question of the attitude 
of the Church to science can only be looked at here from 
one aspect. I have tried to deal with it more fully in 
another place,^ where I have carefully examined the cases 
where the Church is supposed to have acted as the enemy 
of science. On the general point I shall, therefore, say 
no more. 

What I am concerned to show is that, contrary to 
what is commonly believed, at least during the past 
hundred years with which this article is concerned, and 

^ The Catholic Church and its Relation to Science (Macmillans, 1927). 



more especially during that time of strife which is often 
described as the Darwinian controversy, the Church in 
England — and abroad, though I am not concerned with 
that — has not been the active nor even passive opponent 
of the progress of science which she is represented as 
being. That should, I venture to hope, be clear from the 
facts which I have stated. That through the work of its 
sons, and I may add daughters, the Church has had some 
share in the progress of science during that period, I 
could also show were this the place to make the effort. 

1 20 






A Wrong Conclusion 

A Catholic flock with neither Bishop nor cathedral is 
doubly orphan'd. While the Bishop is a Father in God, 
his cathedral is the Mother Church of the diocese. To 
house the Bishop's chair of teaching and jurisdiction is 
the prime purpose of the cathedral ; but Ecclesia Mater 
is in Canon Law also Ecclesia Matrix^ and not the least 
of her functions is the Caecilian task of inspiring and 
refining Sacred Music in her daughter-churches. 

In 1829, Catholic Emancipation was won by a light- 
shunning little community which had neither a hierarchy 
nor any cathedral churches. From tliis fact a wrong 
inference has been drawn as regards Catholic Music. 
Many people imagine that the Penal Laws were wholly 
to blame for the prevalence, a hundred years ago, of 
secularity in the music of the Church. They picture 
the Vicars Apostolic — England's makeshift for a Catholic 
Hierarchy in those days — looking on with impotent 
despair at the spectacle of divers Ambassadors' Chapels 
in which the chaste musical and liturgical ideals of the 
Vicars themselves were mocked and set at nought. 

This notion of the Embassy Chapels, in the Eighteen- 
twenties, and of the Vicars' attitude towards them is 
almost wholly mistaken. The chapel in Sardinia Street, 
for example, had been taken over by Bishop Douglass 
as early as 1799, and the Sardinian Embassy had been 
turned into a presbytery where four or five priests 



ministered to the Catholics (7,000 or so) within their 
prescribed area. The old chapel (one of Inigo Jones's 
buildings) had been doubled in size and the mission was 
self-supporting. And this was not the only Embassy 
Chapel where the Vicars were masters for all practical 
purposes. Therefore we must dismiss from our minds 
the delusion that the Kings of Spain, Portugal, France, 
Bavaria and Sardinia, to say nothing of the Doge of 
Venice, were flouting the austere liturgical tastes of the 
Vicars Apostolic by " maldng a joyful noise before the 
Lord " with that most expensive form of noise, orchestral 

The Vicars, it is true, could and did put down a firm 

foot whenever musical proposals too far outran Catholic 

propriety. For example, only a year or two before 

Emancipation was voted. Dr. Poynter stopped a 

suggested Requiem for Weber (the great Freischut^ 

Weber, who died whilst on a visit to London), because 

it threatened to be more of a concert (with a majority 

of Protestant performers) than a truly religious service. 

But, speaking broadly, they heard the Embassy choirs 

and bands with indulgent and even approving ears. 

They knew that the Ambassadors' oratories had originally 

been more courtly than churclily. But these chapels, 

where royal birthdays, accession-days and death-days 

could be pompously celebrated, had also been for a long 

time, to all intents and purposes, pubHc Catholic churches. 

The Enghsh Kings, in tolerating Catholic Embassy 

Chapels — as an act of courtesy not as an admission of 

right — winked at the frequentation of these foreign 

oratories by native English Catholics ; indeed, it was 

no secret that the Pope had begged sundry CathoUc 

Kings to attach larger chapels to their Embassies in 


To cheapen the Vicars' venerable memory on the 



ground that they condoned music which we now deplore 
would be unreasonable. These fine men were pastors, 
teachers, administrators first ; and aesthetes a long way 
afterwards. How could they be expected to stand far 
ahead of their times in musical taste ? The Viennese 
church music — by which we mean those compositions 
wherein only the words distinguished a Mass from an 
opera — was the vogue not only in England, where the 
song of the Church had so long been stifled, but even in 
those thoroughly Catholic countries where no Reforma- 
tion or Revolutions had torn up the music and scattered 
or persecuted the musicians. Haydn and Mozart and 
a swarm of third-rate imitators filled the ecclesiastical 
as well as the theatrical bill. Weber had written some 
Masses in a hurry, but without letting his good and 
sincere music get into them. In France many Bishops 
permitted huge orchestral displays in church. In 
Courts and other musical centres of the German-speaking 
countries the Proper of the Mass was dropped and truly 
liturgical music was almost unknown. The way for 
Gounod was being made straight. 

Two big reasons fortified the Vicars in their accept- 
ance of the current church music. First, the Gordon 
Riots were fresh in their minds. They had learned that 
music in Catholic worship somehow soothed the savage 
breasts of No-Popery mobs. Low Masses without 
music had stirred the worst suspicions. What was this 
sinister *' mutter of the Mass " and why did the Papists 
kneel through it in still more sinister silence ? Beholding 
the back-street temples of this voiceless mystery-cult 
with dread, Protestants too often set fire to the hum.ble 
Catholic buildings. But when music was heard issuing 
from a Mass-house the mobs were mollified. Here, 
they thought, must be a place of worship of some sort, 
after all; and, although regular Mass-hearers were a 



traitorous, superstitious and hell-destined pack, how 
could you be sure, when you met a fellow citizen coming 
out, that he had not been present merely as a lover of 
music ? Thus many a worshipper worshipped, so to 
speak, behind a choir-screen, and was spared persecution. 
Second, this " attractive " music at Mass was im- 
portant to the finance of the Missions. The singers and 
players cost a good deal, but they brought in more than 
they cost. Many a budget was balanced with the cash 
of open-handed non-Catholics who would never have 
entered the chapels to hear sermons but were irresistibly 
drawn by the musical exhibitions about to be described. 

What the Music Was 

Long before the year of Emancipation, the Catholic 
Chapels held a distinguished place in the musical life of 
London. Musicians of distinction had acted as their 
organists and choir-masters, including the two Webbes, 
Paxton, Danby, the amazing Wesley and Vincent 
Novello. These men were proud of their posts. For 
instance, Novello was absent from the Portuguese chapel 
organ-bench only once in five and twenty years. 

For the tolerable execution of intricate and florid 
compositions, the choirmasters had to maintain a standard 
of vocal excellence and musical proficiency to which 
few of our 1929 choir-singers could rise. The old 
clefs were still in use, and the accompanist had often to 
play from a figured bass. Infinite pains had to be taken 
by the choir-masters for, no doubt, a choir-boy was 
a choir-boy, even under the Georges. By the way, it 
was through Webbe's conscientiousness in training 
choir-boys that the now world-famous firm of Novello 
arose. In 1793, Webbe (of the Sardinian Chapel) 



announced that he would "give instruction gratis to 
such young gentlemen as present themselves to learn 
the church music." Among the young gentlemen 
came an Anglo-ItaHan boy, Vincent Novello. Later on, 
when Novello had -himself become a Catholic chapel- 
master, a demand arose for a printed " Selection of 
Sacred Music as performed at the Royal Portuguese 
Chapel " ; and it was on the appearance of this work 
that the name of Novello was first heard as a publisher 
of church music. 

CathoUc readers at the British Museum ought to find 
leisure some day to handle these first Catholic pubHca- 
tions of Novello. They are not merely ambassadorial 
but royal. The pair of thick and heavy folio volumes 
cost only twenty-six shillings : yet the engraving is after 
a sumptuous fashion. As for the contents, these are 
mostly in bad styles, with ever so much Rossi. A few 
of the numbers are still popular in Catholic choirs, such 
as Mozart's lovely Ave Verum and the inextinguishable 
Inclina ad me of Himmel, which is marked andante suppU- 
chevole. Among the respectable items may be named 
two compositions by that neglected master Caldara— 
his Miserere and a Laboravi in gemitu meo. There is plenty 
of Samuel Wesley, although he had relapsed into quite 
blatant Protestantism after some years of sincere or 
insincere obedience to the Pope. One of the Wesley 
pieces is a Domine, salvum fac Kegem nostrum Georgium, 
with a very long and elaborate Gloria Patri. The 
younger Webbe is represented by a Pater Noster wliich 
concludes not with sed libera nos a malo but with quia 
tuum est regnum, etc. [To young Webbe's work Novello 
has appended a note explaining that CathoHcs do not 
conclude the Lord's Prayer with a Doxology.] Of course 
Adeste Fideles is in the Selection and is described simply 
as " The Christmas Hymn." We have here a clue to 



the puzzle why the tune of Adeste Fideles should be put 
down in ever so many hymn-books as " Portuguese 
Melody," an attribution which astounds Portuguese 
musicians. Probably it was at the Portuguese Embassy 
Chapel in London that this canticle first became popular, 
and it was taken to be a product of Portugal. 

Although the Georges spoke German, there was no 
German opera in England. Weber's reforming work 
was to have only posthumous results. Italian be I canto 
was the rage. Tliis helped the popularity, though not 
the liturgical austerity of the chapel services. The stars 
who shot every year into the firmament of London's 
Royal ItaUan Opera were Catholics and they cheerfully 
gave their services on Sundays to one or other of the 
CathoHc choirs. This attraction brought many Protes- 
tants to Mass and to Catholic preaching ; but the price 
paid was high. Pugin, writing later, was indignant at 
the irreverent behayiour of Catholic choirs. He had 
seen an organist reading a Sunday newspaper during 
service ; and, worse still, he had seen an operatic 
gentleman and an operatic lady walk complacently along 
the church to the choir-gallery like man and wife, 
although neither Church nor State had had anything to 
say to their relationship. 

Plain-chant and polyphony were not wholly despised. 
That Vespers and Compline received more attention 
than in our own day may be gathered from another of 
Novello's lordly foUos which was prefaced by the words : 
" A complete Copy of the Musical part of the Evening 
Service having long been wanting in Catholic choirs, 
the present Work has been undertaken to supply the 

Holy Week had some of its musical due. The 
faithful came to church with Holy Week books in Latin 
and EngUsh and the musicians were provided with 



engraved copies of Palestrina's Improperia and with 
simple settings of such texts as the Jerusalem in Tenebrae. 
But, speaking generally, the weakness of the choirs was 
on the liturgical side and their successes were won in 
musical fields which are now-a-days out of bounds. 

In the domestic chapels of the Catholic nobility and 
gentry attempts were made to follow the Embassy 
model. Disraeli's hothair^ dealing with a somewhat 
later period, ascribes solemnity and poignancy to the 
Holy Week music in a great Catholic house and it is 
well known that Protestants were often moved deeply 
by the ceremonies in private chapels. Spealdng broadly, 
however, the domestic music was on Embassy Hnes. 


What Might Have Been 

The musical ideal of the Catholic Church is that all 
the faithful shall join with heart and voice in her public 
offices. The best means to this end is the so-called 
Gregorian Chant, which justifies both meanings of its 
Latin name planus by moving smoothly and by speaking 
plainly. When the precentor chooses the right pitch 
for the particular congregation around him, nobody has 
to strain after a high note or struggle down to a low one ; 
indeed the compass of the chant is that of ordinary 
human voices. The music being sheer melody, to be 
sung in unison, it is possible to print very cheaply 
ecclesiastical song-books (the Kyriale being the most 
familiar example) containing nearly a score of Masses and 
other music, and to sell them for a few pence a copy. 
But it is not to be supposed that the plain chant repertory 
has been finally settled. Gifted composers could go on 
writing new *' Gregorian " music without limit. Indeed, 
one hears in France and other countries plain chant 



Masses, suitable for singing by all the people, which are 
not in any official music-book of the Church. 

When Emancipation gave the signal for a new era of 
Catholic life in Britain, it was most desirable that con- 
gregational singing should be everywhere encouraged. 
Even before 1829, Protestants had proved that men, 
women and children could be brought to churches and 
chapels without trouble provided they were allowed to 
" have a good sing." For example, Wesley's sermons 
soon ceased to be read except by those on whom they 
were imposed as a theological test ; but Wesley's Hymns 
were everywhere loved and sung. Later on, the big 
" Revival " movements again showed what singing could 
do. Mr. Moody would not have been much without 
Mr. Sankey. Although the book has many detractors 
to-day. Hymns, Ancient and Modern gave incalculable help 
to the Anglican awakening throughout the Victorian 
reign. But Catholics have not even yet come anywhere 
near the ordinary Protestant standards in this matter ; 
and it is commonly said, even by our friendliest critics, 
that Catholic congregations sing worse than any others. 

To blame our leaders of a hundred years ago for not 
promoting and achieving a vigorous plain chant revival 
in all the Catholic churches and chapels would be absurd, 
seeing that the chant was at a low ebb even in Catholic 
countries, and that the mostly corrupt versions available 
in print were cumbrous and costly. But we may justly 
heave a sigh over the fact that other ways of inducing 
the faithful to sing in church were not tried with vigour 
and perseverance. The disastrous facility with which 
hundreds of thousands of Catholics have picked up and 
memorised the top line of Turner's Mass of St. Caecilia 
proves that our great-grandfathers and great-grand- 
mothers could have learned the simpler, stronger and 
more dignified strains of unison Masses, not necessarily 



composed in the plain chant idiom, supported by the 
organ or some humbler chest of bellows and pipes. 
And they could have learned the common psalm-tones 
as easily as their brethren of the Established Church 
were learning Anglican chants. As for translations of 
our Breviary hymns, we are often told nowadays that 
these are too solid for ordinary folk to sing ; but let 
anybody look at some of the hymns and tunes which 
were effectively used in the eighteen-thirties, even in 
the village chapels of untutored Methodists, and he will 
agree that our Breviary hymns were practical. The 
Wesleys described their hymn-book as *' a body of 
divinity " as well as a book of sacred hymnody. Many 
of their compositions were versified theology, very 
different from the ditties of the frothy revivalists who 
came later, and they were sung to solid tunes, some of 
which were derived, although the singers did not loiow 
it, from those choral melodies which would have made 
their way even if Luther had never been born. Catholics 
could have done what Wesleyans did if there had been 
somebody to set their feet in the right way. 

What robbed the Emancipated Church, a hundred 
years ago, of its goodly heritage was the perverse and 
ruinous notion that every Catholic church with a musical 
instrument in it must have a show-choir to imitate the 
performances of the Embassy Chapels, of St. Mary 
Moorfields, of Somers Town, of Islington, and of the 
other Catholic churches where a musical establishment 
was kept up. Before the Reformation our Catholic 
forefathers did what Pius X, of glorious memory, urged 
our own generation to do : that is, they all helped to 
sing Mass. The Ordinary was theirs ; not the monopoly 
of a dozen or twenty parishioners perched up in a music- 
gallery. Nothing has operated with more deadly force 
to keep down CathoUc music in the British Isles than the 



performing choirs. As most of their members have 
been volunteers it is usually considered ungrateful to 
depreciate their efforts, but the fact remains that, while 
there has been terrible efficiency in their discouragement 
of congregational singing, only in rare cases has there 
been a compensating excellence of musical achievement 
on their own part. The praiseworthy exceptions which 
will leap to many minds do not disprove the rule. And, 
worst of all, tliis type of choir, instead of improving 
musical taste and raising musical standards, has produced 
a plentiful crop of die-hards who stealthily oppose the 
liturgical wishes of the Roman Pontiffs and strive to 
perpetuate the unholy alHance of sacred texts with secular 
melody and harmony. 

So much for the congregational singing which might 
have been but was not practised by the Emancipated 
Catholics. It remains to be added that, while Holy 
Church desires the participation of her children in the 
Ordinary of her Missa Cantata, elaborate and artistic 
vocal feats are admissible and even desirable, so long as 
they are churchly in style. The Church finds room for 
the most skilful musicians and would have them match 
the achievements of her painters and architects and 
sculptors, giving to Almighty God the best that human 
genius can offer. It is here that polyphony comes in. 
And here again we may heave a sigh over what did not 
happen after Emancipation. 

The Catholic Church in England under King George 
III could boast the adherence of polyphonic composers 
not inferior to any who were writing in the strongest 
and richest Catholic lands. Take the case of Webbe. 
In many a CathoHc choir to-day this composer is 
represented on Easter Sunday by three compositions — 
Vidi aquam, Kepna Coeli and, at the evening Benedic- 
tion, a tune for Salutaris Hostia ! There is almost 



nothing in the Vidi aquam. The Kegina Coeli is down- 
right bad. The Benediction tune is beautiful and seemly, 
but its homophony is without distinction. Yet Webbe, 
in his secular works, had shown himself a true poly- 
phonist, able to produce madrigals in an almost Tudor 
style. As for Wesley (a son of the truly great poet 
Charles Wesley and father of " Wilderness " Wesley), 
during his years as a professing Catholic this extra- 
ordinary man had written music to Latin words in an 
ecclesiastical style immeasurably superior to anything 
done by his anthem- writing Anglican contemporaries. 
But this Georgian polyphony of English Catholic com- 
posers ran to waste. Rossini, with his flashy Stahat 
Mater, found us an easy prey ; and Gounod wound us 
round his little finger. The show-choirs rose to their 
showiest : their tenors shook shakes, their leading 
ladies trilled trills, and, a little later on, Mendelssohn's 
'Lauda Sion was thought to be the most lofty and severe 
of Church Music. Yet there might have been unison 
singing from every throat and celestial polyphony from 
a few divinely favoured choristers. 

The Good Fight 

In this brief essay it is not possible to epitomise, in 
order and proportion. Catholic musical history since 
Emancipation was won. 

With a doggedness worthy of a better cause, the 
showy singers have held their forts against doughty 
onslaughts. Many a bishop pleaded earnestly for the 
ejection from our holy places of singing theatricali more 
et scenico strepitu, as Benedict XIV had called it, and 
urged the bringing back of the Church's own chant ; but 
these wise pastors knew that they must make haste 



slowly. Archbishop Ullathorne cautiously said to one 
of his priests : " Use the chant if you are sure it will do 
more good than harm." Later on. Dr. Walsh, Arch- 
bishop of Dublin, who was himself an organist and had 
compiled practical manuals of Gregorian, did not feel 
that he was strong enough to impose truly ecclesiastical 
music throughout his diocese, with the result that, while 
Palestrina and the polyphonists were being sung in the 
pro-cathedral of Dublin, many of the parish choirs were 
delivering themselves of the most trashy Mass-music. 
The Synod of Westminster tried a bold move towards 
reform by forbidding women singers in choirs, but 
it might just as well have tried to dictate women's 
fashions. Throughout all the colonies and dominions 
of the British Empire, Catholics still clung to the notion 
that there must be " attractive choirs " as in the old days of 
the Embassy Chapels, with the result that mediocre vocal 
displays from west galleries choked what ought to have 
been the hearty singing of all the faithful in the naves. 
Although the defence against Reform seemed to be 
holding firm, assaults were being made which, in the 
long run, have pounded breaches in the anti-liturgical 
wall. A whole generation before the issue of Pius 
X's Motu Propria on Church Music brave men were 
in the field. A young priest named Francis Bourne, 
destined to hold the highest place in Catholic England, 
taught Latin and the chant to boys at Blackheath. A 
Caecilian Society, emulating the useful though not super- 
musicianly work under the same invocation in Germany, 
was established in England ; and, although it failed 
outwardly, it was a demonstration against the Jericho 
of the show singers. Father Sankey, a convert and a 
musician with academic credentials, brought Palestrina 
to Spanish Place. At the Oscott Seminary, then a 
training centre for the priests-to-be of several dioceses, 



Monsignor Parkinson, in the eighteen-nineties, put life 
into the Schola Cantorum and showed himself a pioneer 
by introducing the Solesmes redaction of the chant in 
lieu of the Ratisbon mutilation. A Hturgical magazine 
was started in Dublin and, although its death-day was 
only two years after its birthday, it did not live in vain. 
Children — who are still the chief hope of the Church in 
this matter — began to sing plain chant Masses at 
Holloway and Wapping. In 1898 the mixed choir at 
St. Mary's, Croydon, went on strike, and were mightily 
surprised to find a liturgical choir in surplices quietly 
and effectively taking over their work. On the morrow 
of the Motu Proprio, Summer Schools of Chant drew 
nearly two hundred eager students to Appuldurcombe 
in the Isle of Wight, the temporary home of the Quarr 
Abbey Benedictines. 

This paper began with an allusion to the importance 
of cathedrals as inspirers and rectifiers of sacred music. 
Years before the issue of the epoch-making Motu Proprio, 
a hall adjoining the unfinished Westminster Cathedral 
was devoted by Cardinal Vaughan to the celebration of 
the full Liturgy of the Church, including a daily Capitular 
High Mass, the whole Divine Office, and the ceremonies 
proper to the succeeding seasons and feasts. Dr. Terry 
(now Sir Richard Terry), who had been doing serious 
musical work as choirmaster at Downside Abbey, and 
had edited some polyphonic masterpieces in modern 
notation, was brought to Westminster as director of the 
music. The hall was small and almost unadorned; 
but a sum of about £3,000 a year was spent on the choir. 
Nothing could more clearly illustrate the progress of 
musical taste than the fact that Westminster Cathedral 
Hall, with a choir singing nothing but plain chant and 
unaccompanied polyphonic Masses and motets, proved 
as attractive to the musical public, both CathoHc and 



Protestant, of King Edward's reign as did the Embassy 
music under King George III. 

So few of our Catholic cathedrals in the days of 
King George V are more than busy and penurious 
parish churches, in which the Bishop's Chair is placed, 
that Westminster's example cannot yet be generally 
followed. Perhaps the most remarkable experiment, 
after Westminster's, is that of Dr. Dunn, Bishop of 
Nottingham, who, a few years ago, made plain chant 
compulsory in Pugin's Cathedral of St. Barnabas. In 
the Cathedral Church of the new Lancaster diocese. 
Dr. Reginald Dixon keeps strictly to truly ecclesiastical 
music. At Southwark, where a sensation was made as 
long ago as 1890 by the abolition of a famous and 
" attractive " choir and orchestra under the baton of 
Mr. Meyer Lutz, the music is now on grave lines, and 
a Festival of Diocesan Choirs is held. A detailed 
account of our cathedral music in 1929 would show 
that there are still some laggards in the march of reform ; 
but, speaking broadly, " it moves." 

Although the great Motu Proprio of 1903 resounded 
loudly through musical England, it cannot be said with 
truth that our country has vied with some other countries 
in obedience to Rome so far as Church Music is con- 
cerned. We still lack a Society of St. Gregory, such as 
has been established for years in some other lands. 
Lists of authorised music were drawn up for the use of 
some dioceses ; but the Boys of the Old Brigade went 
on with their solos and their worldly tunes and florid 
figures of accompaniment as before. Indeed, one of 
the saddest features of Catholic life in the British Isles 
during the twentieth century, so far as it has gone, has 
been the complete disdain of egoistical soloists and 
organists for everybody and anybody who has suggested 
to them a sacrifice of vanity and a deference to their 



bishops and to their Holy Father. Few indeed have 
been the cases in which west-gallery musicians have 
altered their ways out of respect for lawful authority. 
Where changes for the better have come they have almost 
all been through the dying-ofF of the secular practitioners 
or the formal imposition of a new order of things by 
priests aUve to the urgency of Reform. 

Mr. Edward A. Maginty, whose enthusiasm and 
industry in this good cause are so praiseworthy, has 
recently made reasoned estimates of the actual musical 
situation in England and Wales. Counting the churches 
at about 2,000, he fears that about 1,400 of these are 
musically served by small mixed choirs which, while 
obstructing congregational singing, are unequal even to 
the easy choral work which they undertake. In about 
100 rather better mixed choirs, the purely vocal perform- 
ance is not so bad ; but the repertory is unecclesiastical. 
This leaves say 5 00 choirs, or one-fourth of the whole, 
which range up from tolerable to very good. In the 
lowest of these the boys are undertrained and there is too 
much Haller or Turner ; but the Proper is enunciated, to 
more or less simplified music. The mass-chant is heard 
collectively, as a sort of " community singing," in about 
TOO churches. Parish churches confided to Religious 
Orders often have adequate choirs, versed in the chant 
and in polyphony ; but Mr. Maginty thinks that the 
really good choirs in Catholic Britain are much less than 
one-tenth of the whole number. His estimates are mainly 
in respect of Sunday mornings. As for Sunday evenings. 
Vespers and/or Compline are sung in less than 200 
churches, which is a sad falling off from the old 
standard. Nor have the vernacular hymns waxed as 
Vespers and Compline have waned. There is hardly a 
CathoHc parish in England where the parishioners know 
as many as forty English hymns. 




The Future 

For the second century of Emancipated Catholicism 
in Britain the musical prospects are bright. Mr. Maginty's 
survey, sad though it is, does not describe a zero but the 
beginnings of a thaw. One London Catholic Editor 
says that almost every week brings in the good news of a 
parish coming over to the Liturgical Movement ; and, 
he adds, subsequent falls from grace are rare. 

The right step was taken a few years ago in publishing 
a cheap and good Catholic Schools' Hjmn-Book, from which 
children easily learn to sing not only a wider and better 
variety of vernacular hymns but also the most simple and 
necessary Latin texts to plain chant settings, such as 
Asperges me, Vidi aquajn, Te Deum laudamus, Veni Creator 
Spiritus, the Easter sequence and one or two Kyriale 
Masses. Simultaneously with the wide circulation of the 
Schools' Hymn-Book has come the new vogue of Com- 
munity Singing ; and by these two factors the problem 
of Catholic Church music can be solved. 

Perhaps the most pressing need at this stage is a 
band of sympathetic and even magnetic leaders who will 
imitate our Divine Master as Healer of the Dumb. Tunc 
aperta erit lingua mutorum. When once a start has been 
made among Britain's song-shy Catholics, the new era 
will be on us and all around us, Hke long-pent waters 
set free. CathoHcs are so Uke unto other Britons in 
their natural gifts and longings that they want to sing 
" in the congregation " : and, when they begin, they will 
sing with heart and voice not only metrical hymns in 
their own tongue but also the liturgical texts and chants 
of the Church. 

It has been hinted in the foregoing pages that congre- 



gational Masses will not necessarily and invariably be in 
the ecclesiastical modes and in the plain-chant idiom. 
Composers may use modern phraseology provided that 
secularity be eschewed. But, in the narrow space here 
available, it is not possible to do more than shew how 
stately and lovely Catholic worship might become without 
departing from the traditional chants. 

Shared antiphonally between choir and people, and 
supported on the organ with the aid of an accompani- 
ment-book such as is already available for unlearned and 
unresourceful players, even the most curt and plain of 
the Kyriale Masses can be both a dignified enrichment of 
the Sacred Rite and, at the same time, " a good sing.'* 
In bringing this about, use can be made of those 
enthusiastic women who have so long and gallantly 
helped in the west galleries. They can form nave-choirs, 
to sit either en bloc or in two or three groups among the 
people so as to give confidence and to check dragging. 
And, as the people grow bolder with their song and the 
organist makes progress in his art, moments of grandeur 
will become possible. The firm chanting of a plain-song 
melody by a big company of the faithful will give the 
player a canto fermo indeed, upon and around which he 
can pile august harmonies and weave an ever-changing 

And let no one object that a gifted choir would soon 
rebel against the baldness and sameness of unison-chant, 
sung antiphonally with a lusty crowd in the nave. By 
taking the alternate verses mfalso bordone, or by adding 
descants without excess, or by expanding into the kind of 
polyphony which most of them have already heard used 
for alternate verses of processional Latin hymns, in- 
dustrious little choirs would soon find themselves wonder- 
ing how they could have been content so long with the 
tuney melodies and banal harmonies of the Masses and 



motets which they used to perform in the ungrateful ears 
of muzzled congregations. On High Feasts nobody 
would grumble at them for combining with an antiphonal 
plain-chant Credo some noble polyphonic Mass, or even a 
full Mass in a more modern but still churchly style. And 
on every ordinary Sunday they would exercise their good 
voices and fine skill in the motet which the Church permits 
at the offertory. 

Working on these lines a Catholic choir would be 
ready for anything. At times of holiday, or tempest, or 
epidemic a mere pair of singers in the choir could sustain 
a decorous and not undignified interchange of solemn 
chant with the faithful in the nave. The easy tonus in 
directum would see them through the Proper of the Mass ; 
and the organ (which can, of course, be played to support 
the voices even in Lent) would round off and fill up the 
reverent strains. Yet this most frugal of musical 
programmes could be expanded into a kingly feast of 
song on a high day or a holy-day— into a feast Uke some 
great noble's in the olden time, when not only lords and 
ladies and knights and squires, but also plain men-at-arms 
and dairymaids and hinds and scullions ate and drank 
together as one family and were glad. ■ 







In considering the position of Catholics in public life 
in connection with the Centenary of Catholic Emanci- 
pation, it may be useful, first of all, to examine what the 
legal state of affairs was at the time of the Emancipation 
Act a hundred years ago. Catholic Emancipation is 
generally dated in popular opinion from the passing of 
the Relief Act of 1829, but in fact much of the legis- 
lation passed in persecution of the Faith had before then 
been repealed, at least by implication. On the other 
hand, the Act itself did not entirely dispose of the dis- 
abilities of Catholics. The first Relief Act was passed in 
1778. Until that time the Catholic was liable to pay a 
severe penalty for his belief ; for some there was wait- 
ing the punishment of treason, that is to say, death by 
hanging, drawing, and quartering. For others, the 
penalties oi praemunire^ or being put out of the pro- 
tection of the law, so that any man was free to ill-treat, 
if not actually to kill, them and to steal their goods. 
It was treason for a priest to be witliin the realm, 
and death to anyone harbouring him. £100 was the 
reward for apprehending him, and £100 was given 
for evidence leading to a conviction for saying Mass. 
A second refusal to take the oath admitting the supre- 
macy of the King in things spiritual was punishable 
with death. To praise a book in defence of Papal 
supremacy, to reconcile a person to the Catholic Church, 
and to know of either of these offences without re- 
porting them to the Privy Council, was to incur the 
ttttihlt praemunire. For hearing Mass the fine was £ioo 



and a year in gaol. Failure to pay a fine of £20 
monthly for not attending the Protestant services of 
the Church meant adjuration of the realm, and, if the 
offender in this was a landowner, two-thirds of his real 
estate was also forfeit to the Crown. If one convicted 
of recusancy was caught within ten miles of London, 
the fine was £100, and any " reputed Papist " could be 
banished to a distance of ten miles from Westminster. 
£100 was the fine for sending a son abroad for Catholic 
education. The son was disinherited by law and the 
landed estate of the father on his death passed to the 
nearest Protestant kinsman. To come into a house in 
which the King or Heir-Apparent was present was an 
offence for which the Catholic forfeited £100. If 
he had a horse of above the value of £5, it could 
be seized by the constable for the King's use. His 
marriage could only be with the rites of the Established 
Church. If he kept a school he was liable to imprison- 
ment for life, and every Catholic was bound to register 
his estates and his will. He could not sit in Parliament 
without making a declaration denying the Doctrine of 
Transubstantiation, and asserting that the Sacrifice of the 
Mass was superstitious and idolatrous, while before using 
the Parliamentary vote he would be required to take the 
Oath of Supremacy. He must have taken the Sacra- 
ment after Service and Sermon in the Protestant Church 
the Sunday before being admitted to any Civil Office. 
He could not hold a commission in the Army or Navy, 
or be a barrister or attorney. 

It is not suggested that these Penal Laws were 
rigorously enforced. The leaven of humanity in the 
British race made that impossible, yet there were at all 
times some who were ready to raise a persecution, and 
no Catholic but must feel that he held his life and 
property on sufferance. 



The Act of 1778 repealed certain of the worst of 
these Laws, including those providing for the appre- 
hension of bishops and priests, and abolished perpetual 
imprisonment as the punishment for keeping a school. 
It was the extension of this moderate relief to Scotland 
which brought about the Gordon Riots. 

Then came the Relief Act of 1791, under which it 
became no longer an offence to be a Catholic, to be a 
priest, or to say or hear Mass, or to perform Catholic 
rites. The learned professions were thrown open once 
more to the faithful by this Act, and the Act of 18 16 
enabled them lawfully to hold commissions in the Army 
and the Navy. 

The Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829 threw open 
to Catholics both Houses of Parliament, and, with few 
exceptions, all Civil Offices, by providing that instead 
of the old declaration previously required for anyone 
entering Parliament, taking Civil Office, or voting for 
a Member of Parliament, Catholics should be required 
to take that oath only which was provided in the Act. 
This was an oath which Catholics could take, not- 
withstanding that its terms were invidious and offensive. 
By giving to Catholics the opportunity of sitting in 
Parliament and voting at elections, the Act greatly 
changed their status. It bestowed on them a power 
with which politicians were forced to reckon, and by 
degrees that power has enabled Catholics to regain a 
position of civil and religious equality with their fellow- 
subjects. Three years later, for instance, they obtained 
an Act for putting their schools and chapels on the 
same footing as those of Protestant Dissenters. 

In 1837 they obtained from Parliament an Act which 
made it no longer necessary for them to be married in 
a Protestant church. 

In i860 they succeeded in getting passed the Roman 



Catholic Charities Act, which has been useful ever since 
in establishing those charities which were carried on in 
secret through penal times ; while in 1871 the invidious 
Oath in the Emancipation Act was abolished by Parlia- 
ment, and no oath is now required of Catholics that 
is not equally required of their fellow-citizens, save in 
the case of admittance to a few offices, of which one is 
that of the Lord Chancellor. 

In order to pass the Emancipation Act its pro- 
moters found it necessary to cast a sop to Cerberus, 
which took the form of provisions for the gradual sup- 
pression and final prohibition of the Religious Orders 
within the United Kingdom. Though as bodies they 
were not recognised as legal, yet between 1791 and 1829 
there was no law to prevent individual members of the 
Orders being here. The provisions thus enacted against 
the Orders were never, strictly spealdng, put in force, 
though, from time to time, use was made of them in 
side issues. For instance, gifts by will to, and endow- 
ments inter vivos of. Communities were held to be void, 
and many a legacy left to them has been lost in this 
way. Occasionally there would be a frontal attack, as 
when a Protestant clergyman in 1902 applied at Bow 
Street for a summons against those eminently learned 
Jesuit Fathers — Sidney Smith, Thurston, and Gerard, 
charging them with the offence of being in this country. 
The magistrate, in his discretion, refused to summons, 
and the High Court declined to interfere by mandamus 
with the discretion he had used, while making it clear 
that had he used his discretion the other way they might 
equally have declined to interfere. 

Then, again, after Parliament in 1921 had granted 
relief to charities from Income Tax, the relief was re- 
fused by the Inland Revenue Authorities in Scotland to 
a charity carried on by Benedictines, on the ground that 



they were still an unlawful association. It was not till 
the Roman Catholic Relief Act of 1926 that Catholic 
Religious Orders were freed from the Penal Laws. 

Notwithstanding Catholic Emancipation, there re- 
mained on the Statute Book the Bill of Rights requiring 
the Sovereign on accession to the throne to make the 
declaration against Transubstantiation, with its asser- 
tion that the Mass is idolatrous and superstitious. An 
effort was made to relieve King Edward VII from the 
necessity of making it, but, much as he disliked it, no 
way of escape was found. The growth of Catholic 
liberty and of the Oxford Movement, during the nine- 
teenth century, had made the declaration shocking to all 
but a few Protestant ears, and in 1910, before His 
present Majesty was crowned, this declaration by the 
Sovereign was abolished by Act of Parliament. 

Catholics had for so many generations been unable 
to take their part in the public life of the country that 
it is small wonder they had for all practical purposes 
become nonentities; and even when greater freedom 
came to them it would appear they hardly knew how to 
take advantage of it, and continued to remain in their 
homes hardly conscious of the duties which were 
opening out in front of them, and placing them on a 
level with their neighbours in having the same oppor- 
tunities of discharging the various public duties of a 
professional and public kind around them. In fact, it 
would seem there was a reluctance among many of them 
to appear at all in public as Catholics. They had for 
so long led a life, so to speak, in the catacombs, that 
when the light of day did come they shrank from it. 

Tradition is a more potent thing than many imagine, 
and tradition taught that for a Catholic, individual effort 
in public affairs was a thing not to be exercised, and 
therefore in the Catholic body there was small initiative. 



How little is it now remembered even by Catholic 
lawyers that only forty years before the Emancipation 
Act, the Centenary of which we are now celebrating, the 
legal profession was closed to Catholics. How many 
Catholic parents who are now considering a profession 
for their sons ever think that only such a compara- 
tively short time ago the chance of being even an 
unsuccessful barrister was a legal impossibiUty. 

The effect of tradition is illustrated by a story told 
of an old Catholic family as late as about the 'sixties of 
the last century. There were several sons in the family. 
The father was a good old fox-hunting squire, an 
earnest Catholic, who had naturally been brought up 
with the idea that all professions were closed to him and 
his ; and it never occurred to liim that openings for a 
public career had now become available for his sons, 
who, like their father before them, were leading the 
peaceful lives of country gentlemen. But one day it 
occurred to one of the boys that he would hke to 
be a soldier. It was some time before the father, and 
the family as a whole, recovered from the surprise 
of realising that after all it was possible to hold a 
commission in the Army. 

At the time of Emancipation the number of the very 
poor amongst CathoHcs was probably comparatively 
small. The tragedy of the Irish famine had not yet 
driven to our shores the hungry emigrants of that long- 
suffering country. 

In some few of the larger towns, especially in 
Lancashire, such as Liverpool and Manchester, chapels 
existed which, it is said, were hardly large enough to 
accommodate the Catholics attending them. But, out- 
side these towns, the chief centres of CathoUc life 
were in and around the homes of such of the old 
Catholic famiUes as could still afford to keep a 



chaplain, and where, outside the actual household, a 
few retainers and tenants went to make up the small 

That the position of Catholics in the public life of 
England has vastly changed since 1829 goes without 
saying, but the extent is probably realised by few. 

Consider, in the first place, the position of the 
clergy. Whilst here and there a priest may have been 
known and received amongst a small Protestant circle, 
this was probably due to his literary attainments, or to 
the fact of his being chaplain to some Catholic noble- 
man or squire, and, consequently, acquainted with some 
of the local gentry of the neighbourhood. But the idea 
that a priest could take part in the public life of his 
locality probably never entered into his head or that of 
anyone else. 

It would be interesting to know if, say, even as late 
as the 'seventies in any of the local annual celebrations, 
for example the Mayoral Dinner in a borough, the 
parish priest, if one existed, was ever invited to the 
annual banquet. 

When, as a result of the Education Act of 1870, 
School Boards came into existence, it created quite a 
sensation in Catholic circles that a priest should so far 
emerge from the limitations of his duties to his flock as 
to seek the suffrages of his neighbours for the right of 
a seat in a publicly elected body. 

In these days it is probably the fault of the priest 
himself, due to too-retiring a nature or want of apprecia- 
tion of the good services he might have opportunities 
of rendering, if he does not take part in the public 
bodies and social functions of the locality. That for 
a priest to take his part in public events with the 
greatest advantage to the Church needs tact and judg- 
ment is no doubt true ; but experience shows that the 



Opportunities for good arising from so doing are 
immense and far-reaching. 

With regard to the Catholic laity, the position has 
been completely transformed. It can hardly be realised, 
especially after the experiences of the late war, that in the 
days of the Peninsular War and at the Battle of Waterloo, 
no CathoHc could serve as an officer in the Navy and 
Army. The memorials in our Catholic schools to the 
Catholic officers who fell in the late war are a glorious 
tribute both to those who made the sacrifice and to the 
change in pubUc opinion which at long last wiped out 
this astonishing example of narrow-minded ignorance. 

But the " coming into their own " of Catholics was 
of slow growth, and, as an example, it may be cited 
that in the early 'seventies, in a regiment stationed in 
India, the Catholics were compelled to attend the Church 
of England parade, notwithstanding the fact they had 
previously paraded for their own Church at an earlier 
hour, though of course they were dismissed after the 
parade, and not marched to the Protestant service. 

But tradition has not affected CathoHcs only from 
the point of view of their treatment by those outside 
the Church. It is a question even now whether the 
traditions of the past do not still exercise to a small, 
though rapidly diminishing, extent an effect on Catholics 
against taking their full share in the pubHc life of the 
country. Here and there occasionally there seems an 
apathy, a sort of suspicion of handicap, a feeUng that a 
CathoHc cannot compete on equal terms with those of 
other or of no denomination. Sometimes this seems to 
be made an excuse, especially in cases of failure to get 
on and to achieve success. To some extent, no doubt, 
there is something in this. Probably it is true in the case 
of any minority. We remember the phrase " minorities 
must suffer." 



Apart from any feeling amongst those belonging 
to the same religion, there is a good and natural tend- 
ency in human nature to befriend those to whom the 
word " comrade " or " colleague " is appUcable. Free- 
masonry is an instance of this, and though it is probably 
true that the practical effect of Freemasonry in England 
is philanthropic and not religious or, as on the 
Continent, anti-Christian, still the fact that on account 
of its being a secret society no Catholic can become a 
member, creates amongst Masons a prejudice and, at 
any rate, leads in a preference to the employment of 
members of the " craft," to the exclusion of others, and 
particularly of Catholics, who, in the minds of foreign 
Masons, are the chief enemy. 

No doubt, too, there are other ways in which 
Catholics are at some disadvantage. 

The question of the great Public Schools may be 
cited. That certain social advantages are obtainable 
from having been at one of the great and historical 
Public Schools of England may be granted, though, 
when sifted, it is doubtful if it amounts to very much 
more than that when a boy makes his debut into 
Society he knows more people if he has been at one 
of the large Public Schools, a disadvantage that time 
soon removes. 

But, assuming that there is a certain " cachet " 
from the worldly point of view from a school career at 
one of the great Public Schools, is it so very much to 
ask of a Catholic parent to remember what his or her 
forbears had to suffer for the Faith, and not so long ago, 
when their sons could not be educated at all in this 
country, and to forego such advantages as there may 
be in order to secure a Catholic atmosphere for the 
upbringing of their sons ? 

There can be few Catholics who have had this 



inestimable privilege who do not welcome the Bishops' 
prohibition against Catholics going to non-Catholic 
schools. Happily, statistics show the number of 
Catholic boys attending the Protestant Public Schools 
as diminishing, and of those who do attend, several are 
foreigners. The reason given for this improved state 
of affairs is that the education now given in our schools 
enables our boys to compete on more equal terms with 
those from other sclools, and in recent years there has 
been a gradual change from the former methods of 
school management and school discipline in our Catholic 
schools, the result of the abandonment of the foreign 
system to which we had become accustomed in the 
schools on the Continent. This has now given way to 
the EngUsh spirit, more suitable to the English character, 
and parents need no longer have any fear that by send- 
ing their sons to our own schools they will be the least 
less fitted to take their part in the battle of Ufe as English 
gentlemen, with the added and more important element 
of a sound Catholic training. 

In this connection, the following rather amusing 
incident occurred not long ago. A master of one of the 
great Public Schools paid a visit to the master of one 
of our Catholic schools, and said to him : " We don't 
want your boys any more than you want ours, and 
I am always trying to persuade such Catholic parents as 
come to me to send their boys to you ; but I feel as I 
have not hitherto had the pleasure of your acquaint- 
ance that I ought not to do so any longer without 
being able to say that I know you and am satisfied as 
to your credentials." 

But, after all is said and done, and making every 
allowance for the prejudices and ignorance still existing 
about the Catholic Faith, it cannot be truly said that a 
Catholic has any justifiable excuse for not coming for- 



ward and " doing his bit," and doing it quite as well 
as one of any other denomination. In fact, in many 
instances, better ; and what, from a purely worldly point 
of view, a Catholic may lose in some cases on account 
of his religion is a gain to him in others, because there 
are those who by experience have learnt to know what 
his religion means to a loyal and earnest Catholic, and 
the sense of integrity and duty it inspires in him has 
created in some non-Catholic minds a feeling of confi- 
dence in employing a Catholic in a situation where 
special trustworthiness is required. 

Consider the difference the opening of the Univer- 
sities to CathoUcs has made in preparing and training 
them for pubUc life. In fairness it must be said that 
this change might have come about sooner than it did 
had it not been for the feeling amongst some Catholics 
themselves that the dangers of a University career out- 
weighed the advantages. The portals of our Univer- 
sities were opened to us before we had the courage 
to enter in. It has been suggested that what has been 
permitted as regards Universities might also be allowed 
for the Protestant schools, but the difference is immense, 
and those with experience are emphatic on the para- 
mount importance of the boy having the advantage of 
the Catholic atmosphere, the training, and indeed the 
warning, to enable him to face as he emerges into man- 
hood the difficulties and dangers he must expect. Doubt- 
less there was much to be said for the idea that Catholics 
were not yet sufficiently equipped to compete with the 
intellectual and moral atmosphere of University life. 
To Cardinal Newman, and the encouragement he gave 
to the Catholic laity, do we owe the position Catholics 
now enjoy at our great Universities. It was some time 
before the Ecclesiastical Authorities were won over, but 
an appeal on the part of the laity to Rome ended in the 



prohibition being withdrawn, subject to conditions as 
to the provision of Catholic chaplains to supervise the 
religious needs of Catholic undergraduates. This has 
proved most beneficial and successful, though more 
adequate financial support might still be forthcoming 
from parents and ex-students. But another great 
force has grown out of this, and that is the establish- 
ment of Halls and Houses for enabling the clergy to 
get all the intellectual advantages of a University educa- 
tion. This is being taken the fullest advantage of by 
our Religious Orders, and, to a certain extent, by speci- 
ally selected secular clergy. An amusing story is told 
of a Catholic on a visit to Oxford soon after some of 
the Religious Orders had started having their students 
there. He inquired of one of the University Authori- 
ties how these Popish Priests were being welcomed, 
expecting to receive a far from favourable reply. To 
his surprise the answer came : " They are the men we 
want. They are not like the average undergraduate 
who comes here to amuse himself ; they come to learn, 
and we give them of our intellectual best." Experience 
proves that whatever criticisms there may be on our 
University system, there is no better preparation as an 
equipment to embark on a public life of any kind, be 
it political or professional, whether for the Bar, Diplo- 
macy, the various branches of the Civil Services, even 
for the Army. The late Lord Haig was once asked 
his opinion as to the best way of getting into the 
Army, whether through Sandhurst or the University. 
He replied he had no doubt as to the advantages 
of the University, adding : " I realised at once when 
I joined my Regiment that I was intellectually a head 
and shoulders above my brother officers." 

Take the change which has come in the case of 
those wanting to enter on a political career. Within 



fifty years ago a Catholic anxious to enter Parliament 
would have had the greatest difficulty in being selected 
as a candidate, let alone being elected, if selected. Now 
the question as to his religion is rarely asked, and it is 
no uncommon thing for a Catholic candidate, who 
calls attention to the fact of his religion being a possible 
difficulty, being told by the local leaders of any political 
party that the question of religion does not come into 
the picture, or, if it does, that possibly it is an argument 
in his favour, as being more likely to secure the CathoHc 
vote, for whatever it may be worth, in his favour, than 
to alienate votes from other quarters. 

It is not, however, to be supposed that this change 
is a favour to Catholics only, for it applies equally to 
Jews and other denominations. 

Whether such indifference to religion is a good 
thing or not is open to doubt. It may be that such a 
lack of consideration of religion at all is not a happy 
sign for the good of a nation as a whole, but the fact 
remains that no political party at the present day refuses 
to consider the claims of a candidate on the ground 
alone of his being a Catholic. 

The same applies to the question of election for all 
public bodies, whether County Councils, Poor Law 
Guardians, etc., etc.; and in this connection it is a 
lamentable fact that the number of Catholics, men and 
women, willing to come forward for election on local 
bodies is not larger than it is. 

It is not reasonable to expect fair play for Catholic 
children in schools, workhouses, asylums, etc., if 
Catholics will not themselves take the trouble to 
get into a position of authority, and use their influence 
to the advantage of their poorer and less favoured 

Again, as an instance of our emergence from the 



catacombs, contrast not only the number but the 
style and architecture of our churches compared to a 
hundred years ago. A glance at the Catholic Directory 
for 1829 and a comparison with that of the current 
year, and the number of priests and churches men- 
tioned in each, is an astonishing and consoling example 
of progress. At the time of the first Jubilee Celebra- 
tion of Queen Victoria, the Papal Envoy was taken to 
see the new Church of the London Oratory, then only 
recently completed. On his being told it was one of 
the finest churches in England, he remarked it would 
be a fine church even in Rome. Since that date several 
other beautiful churches have been built or enlarged 
throughout the country, culminating in the great 
cathedral at Westminster, a worthy monument to the 
Faith in England, and indeed a lasting tribute to the 
persevering energy of the late Cardinal Vaughan. At 
the time he was embarldng on the plans he was con- 
versing one day with two prominent ecclesiastics, and 
explaining his hopes as to the great work he had under- 
taken. When he left the room the two elderly gentle- 
men shook their heads and agreed together the Cardinal 
was far too sanguine, and the time was still far distant 
when the Catholics of this country could hope for 
such a magnificent illustration of what a real cathedral 
could be. 

Amongst other developments in the public life of 
Catholics, consider the question of denominational edu- 
cation, and the great and successful fight the CathoHcs 
have made to maintain the principle of definite religious 
instruction. The Act of 1902, though by no means 
giving us all we wanted, was an enormous step forward, 
and the position then gained was undoubtedly due to 
the persistent and united efforts of the clergy and laity. 
Even more remarkable than this constructive achieve- 



ment was the repelling and final routing of the series 
of strenuous attacks from 1906. That Catholics have 
yet got what they want, or in justice are entitled to, is 
not suggested for a moment, but to have gained what 
they have, to have hurled back this series of offensive 
movements, is evidence of a vigour which the Catholics 
of a century ago would have regarded as impossible. 
Again, look at the spread of the exposition of Catholic 
doctrine both by clergy and laity in our parks and 
public places— the work of the Catholic Evidence 
Guild and of the Missionary Society, with its travelling 
van. From these two sources alone the amount of 
prejudice and ignorance removed is untold, and, let it 
be added, the growing tolerance of our non-Catholic 
fellow-countrymen must be acknowledged with earnest 
gratitude. In this connection, too, must be mentioned 
the processions and pilgrimages to various shrines so 
well organised by the Guild of Ransom and other bodies. 
Those who recall the days following on the Vatican 
Council will remember the triumphant vindication by 
Dr. Newman, not yet a Cardinal, of the civil allegiance 
of Catholics. 

Notwithstanding the enormously improved position 
of Catholics from what it was a hundred years ago, it 
may well be asked : " Have Catholics as a whole taken 
full advantage of the opportunities open to them ? " 
Might not much more be done in public life ? Apart 
from those who do enter the professions, are there not 
scores whose lives are devoted to business who have 
still leisure enough to give time to work on local bodies, 
to assist those struggling to maintain the Boy Scout 
and Girl Guide movements, to give a few hours a week 
to work in Settlements, to set an example of what can 
be done with a little initiative, energy, and perseverance. 
It is true we are but some three millions out of a total 



of about forty-two millions in England and Scotland, and 
from many points of view it may be, and indeed often is, 
argued that we have a position and influence far in excess 
of what our numbers entitle us to. Is this true ? Put it 
in another way. Considering the freedom, the tolerance, 
the goodwill which forty-two millions of our fellow- 
countrymen extend to our handful of only three millions, 
do we, in recognition and gratitude for this generous 
attitude compared to the suspicion, the ignorance, the 
unjust bigotry of a hundred years ago, as a whole give 
of our best and our utmost as a thanksgiving for this 
change in public opinion ? If the Celebrations of this 
year bring home to us all we have to be thankful for 
compared with the trials and sufferings of those who 
went before us not so very long ago, then this Centenary 
may be the means of inspiring within us a renewed 
spirit for work with increased energy and devotion, 
recognising the generous forbearance of our fellow- 
countrymen who, in the words of Cardinal Manning, 
" were robbed of that Faith " which it is our great 
privilege to possess. 





Public benevolence or philanthropy, even when pro- 
moted by government, began in this country as a 
voluntary act of religion. It was part of the common 
law that the poor of a locaHty were to be sustained by 
the Church and parishioners when they were in danger 
of death by want, and in 1536, when legislation seems to 
have made its first great effort to devise means for the 
relief of poor, aged and impotent people, the governors 
and ministers of religion of the place were to succour 
and keep them by voluntary and charitable alms, which 
were to be gathered from good Christian people by 
means of boxes every Sunday and festival, and every 
preacher, parson, vicar or curate was in his sermons, 
at collections and bidding of the beads, in times of con- 
fessions and at the making of wiUs, to exhort people 
to be liberal. 

The voluntary and religious character of public 
benevolence suffered a violent shock at the dissolution 
of the monasteries, but it by no means ceased. Two 
systems developed ; a voluntary system which was 
avowedly conjoined with religion, and a legal system 
which though not avowedly conjoined with religion 
carries traces of its reUgious origins and practices even 
to this day. Unfortunately, public benevolence, like 
education, medicine, law, and the military and naval 
services became for the Catholic aggressively Protestant. 

When Catholics were emancipated in 1829 they were 
confronted with a double problem — the formation of 
an adequate system of Catholic public benevolence, 



which would satisfy to the extent of their resources 
their own religious needs, and the purification of the 
prevalent system of Protestant relief so that they might 
enjoy as freed citizens that to which they were entitled 
without detriment to their religious belief and practice. 
The struggle to solve these two problems is, in the main, 
the history of CathoUc philanthropy during the past 
hundred years, but it should never be forgotten that in 
making the struggle and succeeding they have conferred 
a benefit on the country and humanity altogether dis- 
proportionate to their numbers and material means, and 
produced a system of amelioration which deserves 
general encouragement and support. 

It would be useful to know how far Catholics in this 
country at the time of Emancipation were suffering 
under the existing methods of Protestant relief. There 
is little reliable information. Charles Butler in a chapter 
of his " Historical Memoirs " on *' Charitable Institu- 
tions of the English Catholics for the Education of the 
Poor " may seem to give the impression that the Catholic 
poor were well provided for in their own establishments. 
These, he writes, " are numerous and excellently con- 
ducted." They are under the direction of the clergy 
assisted by numerous persons of the middle class of life 
" whose first and latest thought is how they can procure 
raiment for the naked, food for the hungry, instruction 
and employment for the young, comfort for the aged 
and the last blessings of religion for the dying." ** Their 
exertions are happily seconded by the noble and wealthy 
among their brethren." 

Bishop Ward in " CathoHc London a Century Ago " 
sheds some light on these general observations. CathoUc 
institutions as organised houses of relief were rare. 
Societies like the Aged Poor Society, Benevolent Society, 
Associated Catholic Charities, in which Charles Butler 



took a personal interest, gave alms to poor people 
who came within their scope, deriving their funds from 
the contributions of members, collections in the churches, 
or appeals at diimers ; and the Society of Charitable 
Sisters, a body of lay-women established by Dr. Poynter 
in 1 8 14, worked in the East End and elsewhere 
" to distribute clothing to cover the shivering members 
of the orphan and hapless children of indigence and 
misery." But when we are told that the Church in 
St. George's in the Fields in 1805 had within its district 
four prisons, two large hospitals, several workhouses, 
and a Catholic population of 4000, chiefly poor, and that 
Virginia Street in the East End had a Catholic population 
of 7000, we are still left wondering whether Catholic 
voluntary agencies sufficed, even at that early period, 
to protect the poorer class of Catholics from the influences 
which accompanied Protestant relief. 

An ominous passage occurs in a circular issued in 
1805 by the Committee of Management of St. Patrick's 
Charity School which states that often the most deserving 
cases were taken out of their hands when through the 
death of the parents the children were sent to the work- 
house where there was no provision for bringing them 
up as Catholics ; the Committee appealed for an 
orphanage and a School of Industry. 

In ofl'ering an opinion on this subject much must 
depend on one's estimate of the size of the Catholic 
population in 1829. The estimate, attributed to Bishop 
Ward, is 500,000. If these figures are reliable, Catholics 
were i in 28 of the estimated population of England 
and Wales, an enormous advance on Berington's figures 
of 60,000, fifty years earlier, when they were i in 1 5 o of 
the total population. It is generally admitted that the 
number of English Catholics declined during these fifty 
years, and we can only suppose that this huge increase 



was due to Catholic immigration, induced by the Indus- 
trial Revolution and the desire for betterment, and must 
have produced a big demand among the weaklings for 
public relief. Out-relief was common in those days 
and might have met most of this demand without injury 
to religion. But those who were forced into the work- 
house or prison, or even hospital, had to contend with 
the determination of the officials to uphold Protestant 
ascendency in these institutions, and if large numbers 
entered, this mode of leakage, which is always with us, 
had already begun. 

The treatment meted out to Irish Catholics trans- 
ported to Australia, in wliich the CathoHc religion was 
not recognised — CathoHcs were compelled to attend 
Church of England services and CathoUc children were 
brought up as Protestants in State orphanages — is an 
indication of the general feeHng of the ruling class in 
this country previous to Emancipation, and we prefer 
to think that, though CathoHcs had increased in numbers 
since 1780, 500,000 is an exaggeration, and that the need 
for Catholic Emancipation from disabilities under the 
English poor-law and voluntary charitable systems, 
which was not stressed by contemporaries, had not yet 
presented itself in any striking manner. 

In the decade after Emancipation, Catholics were 
busy in providing the primary requisites for the life of 
the risen Church ; their resources in men and material 
were meagre ; and they had to content themselves with 
what private benevolence they could exercise and a con- 
tinuance of those methods of public benevolence that 
their conditions had already favoured. 

But in the list of charities in 1 840 there appeared for 
the first time the Asylum of the Good Shepherd 
(Hammersmith). The new-comer requires special 
notice. The nun ever consecrated to the work of 



fraternal charity, as distinct from education, had at long 
last made her permanent home in England. She repre- 
sented the ideal of practical charity as proposed by the 
Catholic Church ; she asked for no payment or reward ; 
she gave herself for her brethren and trusted that God 
would add all other things to her. The first foundation 
(1839) was of Sisters of Mercy from Ireland, the second 
(1840), two Good Shepherd Sisters from France. Dr. 
Griffiths, Vicar Apostolic of the London District, had 
sent two English ladies to make their novitiate with the 
Sisters of Mercy in Dublin with a view to their return 
with some Irish Sisters to establish a Convent of Mercy 
in Bermondsey ; the same Bishop encouraged the two 
French nuns, who could not speak a word of English, 
and who had only £40 in their pockets, to found a home 
for penitent girls in Hammersmith. These nuns were 
the forerunners of a host of religious men and women 
who have dedicated their lives to philanthropic work in 
England during the last ninety years. 

On Ireland's contribution to the enormous total 
there is no need to enlarge. It is as obvious as the 
prosperity of Catholic charitable work in England to-day. 
But we should like to say one word of appreciation for 
what England owes to France, and, in a less degree, to 
Belgium, for sending their sons and daughters to pro- 
mote tried schemes of Catholic benevolence in this 
country when English Catholics were too few, or too 
poor, or too occupied to found them themselves. Not 
only the religious of the Good Shepherd, but also the 
Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent of Paul, the Sisters of 
the Poor with their offshoot the Sisters of Nazareth, 
the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, the 
Sisters of Charity of St. Paul, the Daughters of the Cross 
— all of them thriving with many houses — are due to 
French or Belgian initiative. 



Dr. Griffiths died in 1847. Dr. Wiseman came to 
London and at the restoration of the Hierarchy in 1850 
became the first Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster. 
Miss McEntee, in her valuable and exhaustive volume, 
recently published — " The Social Catholic Movement in 
Great Britain " — thus summarises the new Archbishop's 
relations to the problems of Catholic poverty as they 
presented themselves at liis accession ; *' Impelled by 
the exigencies of the situation to pioneer work in 
rehabilitating Catholicism in the minds of the English 
people and interested by temperament in scholarly and 
cultural pursuits, he never gave more than casual atten- 
tion to conditions with which his successor was to 
grapple with extraordinary success. ... In a general 
way he realised the need for the exercise of Christian 
charity, but he did not feel called upon to be a standard- 
bearer of the democratic movement." 

There is unintentional misconception of the situation 
in these words. Nothing bearing the remotest resem- 
blance to a democratic movement among Catholics, in 
the modern sense of the term, existed in the times of the 
last Vicars-Apostolic and the active years of Cardinal 
Wiseman, nor was it possible. Catholics were scattered 
and without cohesion ; even the effort of O'Connell 
to democratise the Catholic Institute was a failure. The 
Catholic population had multiplied, largely owing to 
the influx of Irish men and women into Great Britain 
during the famine years of 1845, 1846 and 1847 and after, 
and the conditions under which the poorest of them 
lived in the great towns were appalling. To say that 
the Cardinal never gave more than casual attention to 
these conditions is a reflection upon his episcopal 
character which is not deserved. The truth is that 
Catholic poverty had reached dimensions that made it 
beyond the power of the Catholic community to cope 



with it. But the community recognised the problem 
and with the guidance and help of their spiritual leaders 
worked superhumanly to solve it. 

It should be noted again that the problem was pre- 
eminently religious. The poor Irish people who were 
forced to live in squalid and miserable conditions were 
both spiritually and corporally starved, and it is to their 
everlasting credit that they preferred corporal starvation 
to spiritual starvation, indeed deprived themselves of 
what are called " the necessaries of life " to provide the 
deeper necessaries without which life is not worth living. 
As early as 1843, Mr. Lucas, the Editor of the Tablet^ 
had summed up the position in the words " Provision 
for the Catholic Poor." " We want Priests and Churches, 
Schoolmasters and Schoolhouses ; and then a long train 
of benevolent institutions for supplying the needs of 
their bodily and human existence." 

It is a mistake to attribute the success or the failure 
of a vast undertaking of this kind to any single bishop 
or series of bishops. All the bishops gave what leader- 
ship and assistance they could. The means at their 
disposal were of the scantiest. They preached charity 
sermons, wrote pastorals, encouraged religious men and 
women to make foundations, promoted collections, 
assiduously visited their flocks. Bishop Ward in his 
" Sequel to Catholic Emancipation " has these apposite 
words about the bond of union between English and 
Irish Catholics which was the consequence of the famine. 
" Those who were able left their unfortunate country 
and many took refuge in England. For three years 
there was a continual stream of immigrants arriving on 
our shores. They brought their religion with them 
and many of the English congregations increased by 
leaps and bounds. New churches became necessary 
and additional school accommodation, and the work of 



every mission expanded. Happily they found pastors — 
many of them of Irish descent — ready to minister to 
them, whose self-denial and devotion to duty did not 
fall short of that which they had experienced in their 
own country. And it was soon put to a severe test, for 
the immigrants brought with them the famine fever 
which quickly spread. Cholera also broke out and 
many of the large English towns became centres of 
pestilence. The clergy attended the victims and faced 
the danger with courage and devotion. Numbers of 
them contracted the disease and died martyrs to their 
priestly vocation. At least one bishop lost his life in 
this way and some hundreds of priests." 

Extracts from a personal letter written by Dr. 
Wiseman early in 1850 give some indication of the 
success already achieved in London. *' It is hard perhaps 
to describe in a letter what is going on. Externally 
something can be seen, e.g, in less than two years we 
have established — and I hope solidly — seven new com- 
munities of women and three of men, in this district, 
have opened up two orphan-houses, have set up an 
excellent middle-school or grammar school, containing 
seventy boys already, and have opened four new missions 
in the heart of the poor population, and at least seven 
others in different parts. Tiiis year I have a good 
prospect of four great establishments springing up in 
London. Yet all this I consider as nothing compared 
with what I hope is latently and spiritually being done. 
The vast increase of communions, the number of 
admirable conversions, the spread of charitable associa- 
tions are less known though still manifest to all. I think 
I can safely say that in a year, or little more, 15,000 
persons have been reclaimed by the Retreats given in 
courts and alleys. In one place, the very worst street 
of London, we boldly planted a mission among the 



thieves and prostitutes and the change was so visible 
that a Protestant poHceman asked if it would not go 
on again and observed that the Government * ought to 
support it.' But it is in the clergy that I have found my 
greatest consolation. ... I assure you that at times 
I am inclined to feel low and dejected at thinldng and 
seeing how much there is to be done which is being 
neglected. In one district alone we have 5000 children 
to educate, and accommodation for only 400. We want 
a thousand things which our wretched poverty prevents 
us from having." 

This long reference to Cardinal Wiseman is in the 
nature of a digression. Were it not for the mistaken 
impression we have noticed his name need not have been 
introduced at all. For Catholic philanthropy for the 
poor is a natural product of the Catholic reUgion and, 
as the Church established itself in England, there was 
a strong effort in every diocese on the part of the bishop, 
clergy and people to provide benevolent institutions for 
its suffering members. The surprise, when we look at 
the list of charities in 1865, is what was done, not what 
was left undone. The movement received a strong 
impetus when Archbishop Manning made his appeal in 
1866 to establish the Westminster Diocesan Fund for 
the education of 20,000 children, uneducated and uncared 
for in the streets of London. It met with an immediate 
and most generous response from the Catholic laity and 
has been the means of establishing orphanages, reforma- 
tories, industrial and poor-law schools in the West- 
minster Archdiocese, several of which are functioning 

The example set in London was followed in other 
places and a network of these institutions, many of them 
built at the expense of the religious men and women 
who worked them, gradually covered the land. As 



early as 1842 Charles Langdale had pointed out that 
more schools were needed to prevent leakage, and the 
discussion on the repeal of the Penal Laws (i 841-6) 
emphasised the sectarian manner in which gaols and 
workhouses were conducted. There were not enough 
clergy to minister to the spiritual needs of a sudden and 
large influx of Catholics, of whom many fell out of touch 
with religious influences and many others hung on their 
fringe ; when they and their cliildren entered the work- 
house and workhouse school, they were in imminent 
peril of renouncing their Catholic allegiance altogether. 
The Catholic community were aware of the danger, but 
it was impossible for them to relieve the State of the 
feeding, clothing and education of a multitudinous poor, 
and nothing remained but to come to terms with the 
authorities and provide institutions to which those 
authorities might send chargeable children to whom 
they were unable to give the Catholic upbringing they 
required. This arrangement, we say it to the credit of 
the authorities, has worked well. The initial difficulties 
have nearly all been surmounted, and, as in elementary 
education, a partnership between the various public 
authorities and the Catholic authorities has been evolved 
which with good-will on both sides has produced an 
aggregate of Catholic philanthropy which is an asset to 
the country and a marvel in the Catholic Church. As 
the government gradually widened its responsibility 
for distress, it offered opportunities to the Catholic 
community to widen theirs also, and at the present time 
there is scarcely a department of benevolent activity 
which is not being conducted on Catholic lines and under 
Catholic auspices with government encouragement and 
support. Besides the poor-law institutions already 
mentioned, there come under this category homes for 
physically and mentally defective children, homes for 



penitents, refuges for fallen women, sanatoria for 
tuberculous children and adults, homes for cripples and 
epileptics and many others. 

But its association with poor-law relief is only one 
aspect of Catholic philanthropic activity. A mass of 
Catholic destitution existed in 1866 which was outside 
the poor-law system, either because the sufferers could 
not or would not accept its assistance. Catholic 
voluntary effort, as we have stated, was insufficient to 
cope with it. Application was frequently made to 
Protestant voluntary agencies for relief and this often 
entailed a loss to the children of their CathoHc faith. 
The Catholic community chafed under this attrition, 
but it was not until 1899 that effective measures were 
taken in London to arrest it. Cardinal Vaughan in a 
Pastoral Letter issued in 1895 put the position clearly. 
" We must hesitate before we reproach our Protestant 
fellow-countrymen for these losses. Many of them 
have spoken to us with sufficient plainness, if not with 
sufficient satisfaction. They have told us that it is not 
their intention to proselytise ; but that as the Catholic 
community in London make no adequate provisions 
for the Catholic waifs and strays who infest our slums 
and appear before our poHce-courts they, at least, must 
open the doors of their institutions and give them a 
hearty welcome. ... In some of these cases the State, 
as guardian of Society, comes in with ample provision ; 
but in a large number of cases the State and public 
opinion expect us to take up the cause of our own 
destitute and orphan children ourselves, if we would 
not be privy to their becoming criminals or apostates." 
" It is impossible to estimate with accuracy the number 
of our losses. Thousands and thousands of Catholic 
children have been robbed of their faith in past years ; 
they have been immigrated ; they have been spirited 



from one place to another ; they have been cut off from 
all Catholic influence; their very names have been 
changed and they have been sent into the world aliens 
to the reUgion of their baptism." 

In 1 899, as a result of this appeal, a Crusade of Rescue 
was organised and in 1901 was amalgamated with an 
older Society, the " Homes for Destitute Catholic 
Children." Similar organisations were estabHshed in 
other dioceses and a general effort was made to live up 
to the motto " No CathoHc child who is really destitute 
or whose faith is in danger and who cannot be other- 
wise provided for, is ever refused." Tliis effort still 
persists and grows. We do not say that it is as com- 
plete as it might be, but it is a noble work, nobly sup- 
ported, and is the chief direct contribution of the modern 
Cathohc community to philanthropic enterprise. 

It is difficult to ascertain with complete accuracy 
what the results of the strivings of a hundred years are 
in charitable institutions, in man-power, and in numbers 
reheved and maintained. We are well within the mark 
when we say that more than 200 residential institutions, 
many of considerable size, exist in England and Wales 
at the present time ; of these some 150 are Orphanages, 
Poor Law, Industrial and Reformatory Schools which 
devote themselves to the education and training of over 
12,000 children. There are 29 hospitals, general and 
special, and 45 homes and refuges other than those 
mentioned above. Nearly all are under the direction of, 
and mainly staffed by, reUgious men and women who 
have dedicated their lives to charitable service. Space 
does not permit us to give a list of these charities, but 
we take the liberty of recommending the inquirer to 
" A Handbook of Cathohc Charitable Organisations," 
compiled by the Superior Council of the St. Vincent de 
Paul Society and published by the CathoHc Social Guild 



as the " Catholic Social Year Book " for 1927, in which 
a list and account of many of these charities are given, 
together with information on Charitable Associations, 
national and diocesan. 

In this survey of the history of Catholic Philanthropy 
in England and Wales during the past hundred years 
we have refrained, as far as possible, from mentioning 
names. The CathoUc dislikes the word " Philanthropy," 
and we are sure that no Catholic would care to be singled 
out as a Catholic Philanthropist; every CathoHc is a 
philanthropist or hardly a practical Catholic at all. We 
have aimed rather at showing how a small, impoverished 
Catholic community under the Providence of God has 
struggled to express in the circumstances which followed 
emancipation its religious conviction that men should 
have love one towards another. The principal actors 
have not been the organisers, debaters, large benefactors, 
but the humble, silent, cheerful workers, who have 
prayed and wrought and spent themselves, each in his 
own place and generation, that the vision which we see 
to-day might be. Their names are unknown to us but 
they are written in the Book of Life. We are urged to 
these remarks in our anxiety to incorporate in this essay 
a short account of the operations of the Society of St. 
Vincent de Paul, since it was estabHshed in England in 
1844. It came to us, as many another benefit, from 
France. Its object was to induce CathoUc lay men to 
come to close quarters with poverty and distress, whether 
spiritual or corporal ; to prevent it if possible ; to visit 
it, observe it, appreciate it ; actively to sympathise with 
it and relieve it. It was the antithesis of the workhouse 
system in which the community segregates its unfor- 
tunates and subordinates them to officialdom; the 
Society called upon its members to retain the distressed 
within the community and treat them as brothers. 



Long before the world had heard of the blissfulness of 
the service of man, the Society was showing that there 
was no proper Christian Ufe without it. It required no 
wealth, demanded no extraordinary exertion. While 
a man ate and drank and earned his daily bread, he was 
to exercise himself in Christian charity towards his 
neighbour. No work of charity was outside its scope. 
The Society has prospered in England, but not as much 
as one would like. 

The report for 1927 is before us. There are about 
622 Conferences in England and Wales ; the number of 
Active Members is 7179 ; the visits paid to families 
were 229,790 ; special visits were 49,344 and the cases 
visited were 28,532. Among the special works of the 
Society are the supervision of Male Catholic Probation 
work in the Metropolitan area ; the supervision of a 
Hostel at Harpenden for lads under a term of probation ; 
the supervision of the George Blount Home for Catholic 
working boys of good character ; the aftercare of 
Industrial School Catholic boys ; the management of 
a Catholic Seamen's Home and Institute at Victoria 
Docks, London. 

It remains to say a few words of the future of Catholic 
public benevolence in this country. Manifestly there 
must be separate Catholic benevolence as there is 
separate Catholic education ; both are religious works 
and the decline of either would spell unhappiness to the 
individual Catholic and decline to the message and 
influence of the Catholic Church. Fortunately there is 
every sign of growth. Public opinion seems to favour 
an expansion of Catholic benevolence on the ground 
that voluntary charitable agencies should be encouraged 
and that a religious community has responsibility for 
the maintenance of its poorer members. While 
recognising this responsibility as part of their religious 



teaching Catholics are entitled to their share of the 
compassion of the State. The State shows a disposition 
to continue to give it under such conditions as to make 
it possible for Catholics to accept it. There has been 
perennial discussion as to the co-operation of Catholics 
in schemes or movements of benevolence supported or 
promoted by religious persons or sections who are not 
Catholic. With every scheme or movement that pro- 
tests in word or deed against the Catholic religion they 
can have nothing to do. Happily that attitude is waning, 
there is a tendency to help distress or destitution without 
making the help a reason to injure religion, and it has 
been found possible for Catholics to contribute to and 
use hospitals and similar institutions under voluntary 
and non-Catholic religious management without con- 
scientious objections. The subject bristles with difficul- 
ties and this is not the place to consider it. We venture 
to express the hope that while practising their own 
methods of Catholic benevolence, Catholics may be 
allowed to retain their hard-earned place as co-operators 
in a general system of benevolence which has in view 
the spiritual and physical welfare of every member of 
the nation. 





It appears that in 1829 there were in all England and 
Scotland only four communities of men of the religious 
Orders. Throughout the penal times a number of 
priests of the older Orders — Benedictines, Dominicans, 
Franciscans, Jesuits — had at all times been labouring on 
the English Mission; and in 1829 there were several 
such, worldng as individual priests in missions and 
chaplaincies in many parts of the country. But of 
communities of men living together an organised life 
under rule, there were but four : the Benedictine priories 
at Ampleforth and Downside, the Dominican at Hinckley, 
and the Jesuit College at Stonyhurst. These English 
communities had all been uprooted from their Continental 
homes by the upheaval of the French Revolution, and 
had succeeded in re-establishing themselves at home. 
Several convents of women belonging to the old Orders 
had similarly come back to England ; but this chapter 
is concerned only with the men. And probably in 
nothing does the growth of the Catholic Church in 
England since Emancipation stand out more strikingly 
than in the multiplication of the four communities of 
1829 into the multitudinous and multifarious com- 
munities of 1929. This is all the more wonderful in 
that the Emancipation Act was framed with provisions 
for bringing about the gradual but sure extinction of all 
Orders and Institutes of religious men by making illegal 
all recruiting : women were not interfered with. These 
disabilities remained always a dead letter, and were in 



practice disregarded ; but they were repealed only the 
other day. 

The first increase in religious Orders of men was the 
introduction into England of three Italian congregations 
of quite modern origin. The Rosminians, or Fathers 
of Charity, were the first comers, introduced by 
Bishop Baines, Vicar Apostolic of the Western District, 
at Prior Park, Bath, in 1835, when he had failed to secure 
a Benedictine community to staff his new college there. 
The Passionists came in 1842, and the Redemptorists a 
year later. The three new Orders were akin in spirit, 
scope and work ; their vocation was primarily the extra- 
parochial work of preaching missions in the great towns 
and in country places, giving retreats, lectures, and so on. 
They introduced the Italian practices of devotion, and 
thereby gave a shock to the old-fashioned English 
" Challoner Catholics," brought up in the soUd austere 
piety engendered by the conditions of suppression in 
which they had lived, out of touch with the more exuber- 
ant forms of devotion that had grown up in Catholic 
countries, and so looking with suspicion on novelties. 
The ItaUan Fathers on their side thought the EngUsh 
Catholics to be in a backwater, stagnating and infected 
by the Protestantism in the midst of which they lived ; 
and they beUeved that the low estate of things Catholic 
was due to the over-caution and timidity of the Vicars 
ApostoUc and clergy : they imagined it wanted only 
energy and courage, and a forward movement on the 
methods of modern Catholicism as in Italy — and England 
would soon be Catholic again. These ideas they urged 
at Rome, and thereby caused no small difficulties for the 
Vicars and the old priests. Fr. Gentili, a truly apostolic 
and remarkable man, the leading Rosminian, was one of 
those who took part in this agitation ; but we have 
Dr. Ullathorne's witness, who knew him intimately, that 



at the end of his life, 1850, he recognised and regretted 
the injustice of these attacks on the old clergy.i 

Among the Passionists the most prominent figure 
was the saintly Fr. Dominic Barbieri, famous as the one 
chosen by Newman in 1845, at whose hands to make his 
submission to the Cathohc Church. 
^ Fr Gentili it was who gave the first pubHc mission 
m England, at Nottingham in 1 842, and again at Coventry 
m 1845, while Ullathorne was rector; and on this 
occasion took place the first public procession in which 
a statue of the Blessed Virgin was carried in England 
since the Reformation, as an expiation for the Lady 
Godiva procession going on at the same time.2 When 
Ullathorne went to Bristol as Vicar Apostolic he had 
Gentih to give a mission there in 1847, and another of a 
month's duration in 1848 ; "it had a great effect, and 
began a new order of things," says Ullathorne ; but the 
prolonged effort was too great and caused Fr. GentiH's 
death a year later. Meantime Fr. Dominic, the Passionist 
was at work giving missions ; also the Redemptorists! 
These three Itahan congregations have been dwelt upon, 
as they played so great a part in the awakening of active 
Catholic devotional life in England, and in the infusing 
of new blood and new spirit into the Catholic remnant 
in the first years after Emancipation, before the increase 
and revival consequent on the accession of the converts 
of the Oxford Movement and the great Irish immigration 
after the Famine. 

When we come to deal with the general subject of 
the religious Orders of men during the century the best 
method will be to take the various Orders and Institutes 
m groups and briefly sketch the outline of their develop- 
ments, with an indication of the spirit and work of each 
and what they severaUy stand for. Thus, it may be 

1 See Life of Bishop Ullathorne, i. p. 152. 2 m^ j p ^^^ 



hoped, will be drawn a picture of the variety, the richness, 
and the usefulness of the many forms of rehgious life 
offered by the CathoHc Church to men.^ 

The great groups will be in historical order : 
(i) Monks; (ii) Canons; (iii) Friars; (iv) Regular 
Clerks ; (v) Secular Clerks ; (vi) Institutes for Foreign 
Missions to the Heathen; (vii) Teaching Institutes; 
(viii) Institutes of Brothers for Works of Charity. 


I. Of the monastic Orders the Black Benedictines 
naturally come first. The principal group of Benedic- 
tine monasteries in England are those of the Old English 
Congregation which survived the break-up of the 
Reformation, and in a wonderful way has preserved the 
line of continuity with the Black Monks of Old England. 
The two Benedictine communities of 1829 belonged to 
it. The Downside community was that of St. Gregory 
domiciled in Doway from 1606 ; the Ampleforth that of 
St. Lawrence of Dieuleward, Lorraine, of the like date. 
A third community of the English Congregation, that of 
St. Edmund, originally in Paris, existed in 1829, but not 
on EngUsh soil, being estabUshed at Doway in the old 
home of St. Gregory's. They were in 1829 small 
struggling communities that had with difficulty sur- 
vived the storm of the Revolution and consequent 
transplanting. A school was attached to each; and 
monasteries and schools in time took firm root and grew 
and thrived through half a century in a quiet unobtrusive 
way. The first step forward for the EngHsh Benedictines 
was the opening in i860 of a new monastery on new lines 

1 A useful handbook js Monasteries and Religious Houses of Great Britain, 
by F. M. Steele, 1903. 



at Belmont, close to Hereford, through the generosity 
of the late Francis Wegg Prosser, Esq., the Founder. 
It was founded as a cathedral priory, the church being 
the pro-cathedral of the new diocese of Newport and 
Menevia ; it was also to be the common noviciate and 
tirocinium, or training house for all the monasteries of 
the Congregation. The conditions of housing and of the 
chapels in the older monasteries were such as to make 
impracticable a full observance of Benedictine liturgical 
and conventual life ; and so the first four years of 
monastic life passed in fuller Benedictine conditions, and 
amid much liturgical stateliness, exercised a very elevating 
influence on the young monks. 

In 1878 was opened a fifth monastery at Fort 
Augustus, the only Benedictine revival in Scotland. 

As the monasteries and schools grew and waxed 
strong, and the elements of Benedictine life could be 
better carried out, a great return from the conditions 
of the missionary period towards normal Benedictine 
conditions was effected by Leo XIII, and in 1900 the 
monasteries of the Congregation were raised from the 
status of priories to the full Benedictine stature of 
abbeys. A few years later the noviciates were reopened 
in each abbey, according to the tradition of the Benedic- 
tine monastic family ; and Belmont became a normal 
abbey. There has been a notable increase in the liturgical 
side of the life, so that a full Benedictine regime is now 
carried out in a way worthy of the houses that by 
legitimate descent represent the old Benedictine monas- 
teries of England. Moreover, in 1903, consequent on 
the French laws affecting religious Orders, the third old 
community, that of St. Edmund, migrated from Doway, 
and established itself at Woolhampton, near Reading. 

Besides those of the old Congregation, there are other 
Black Monk monasteries in England. In the 'sixties 



was established at Ramsgate a house of the Subiaco 
Congregation of Primitive observance, which opened a 
school. In 1882 Pere Muard's community of the same 
Congregation, expelled from France, came to England 
and settled on the site of the old Cistercian Abbey of 
Bucl^fast, Devon. A few years earUer was established 
at Erdington, Birmingham, under the stress of the 
Kulturkampf in Germany, a community of German 
monks, which since the war has gone back to Germany. 
At a later date, again under stress of expulsions from 
France, two houses of the French Congregation have 
been established in England, the abbey at Farnborough 
and Quarr Abbey. Last of all came the convert 
community of Caldey Island,^ 191 3> which has been 
affiliated to the Subiaco Congregation, in connection 
with Ramsgate. 

Thus there are now ten major Benedictine abbeys, 
six of them with schools attached ; and there is a day 
school at Ealing, London, attached to a priory dependent 
on Downside. The abbeys belong to three Congrega- 
tions of English, Italian and French origin ; and, as 
should be expected among Benedictines, while they 
show a substantive unity in life and spirit, it is a unity 
marked by diversity in detail. The most characteristic 
work of the English Benedictines will probably be thought 
to be their schools. Those of the three houses of old 
foundation are now great modern public schools, 
rightly looked on as in the front rank of Catholic schools, 
and of the public schools of the country, holding their 
own well at the Universities in studies and athletics 
alike, and in the Services. Also, as an inheritance from 
their work in the English Mission as individual mis- 
sioners during the long dark period of persecution and 
penal laws, the monks of the English Congregation have 

1 The Benedictines of Caldey Island have now removed to Prinknash 
Park, Gloucestershire. 



a number of parishes wherein they live atid work as 
pastoral priests. At Oxford and at Cambridge are 
smaller houses of studies, where young monks go 
through university courses in preparation for their 
work as teachers in the schools. And there has been a 
quite remarkable, if restricted, output of historical and 
religious literature to the credit of the old Congregation. 

Of the monks of the other Congregations, those of 
Ramsgate resemble the EngHsh, in that they have a 
school, and also serve the parishes on the Isle of Thanet. 
The others naturally develop in a high degree the 
liturgical element of Benedictine life ; some of them 
produce literary work — Farnborough is conspicuous for 
the scholarly and learned character of its productions ; 
and most of them undertake pastoral ministrations on 
occasion to come to the aid of the secular clergy. 

The other old monastic Orders, Cistercian and 
Carthusian, have each a house in England. 

2. The Cistercian or Trappist abbey of Mount St. 
Bernard, in Charnwood Forest, Leicestershire, was 
founded in 1837 by that remarkable man, Ambrose 
Phillipps de Lisle. The Cistercian idea was a literal 
return to the conditions of life at Monte Cassino in St. 
Benedict's own day : a life of liturgical prayer, seclu- 
sion, silence and manual labour. The Trappist reform, 
initiated by de Ranee, carries out this programme with 
great fidelity ; and at Charnwood Forest the monks, a 
small community of only nine priests with several lay- 
brothers, live this Ufe of prayer, and of work on farm 
and fields which fills up the greater portion of the day. 

3. The Carthusian is at the opposite pole : the 
Trappists live their life in common with no privacy ; 
the Carthusian lives in the isolation of his cell, almost a 
hermit, coming into contact with his brethren only at 
the prolonged church services. This, however, Trap- 
pists and Carthusians have in common, that the extreme 



austerity of both regimes justifies the purely contem- 
plative life they lead, and their withdrawal from the 
external good works of the " mixed life," as exercised 
by Orders ranked, for all that, as " contemplative " — 
Benedictines, Dominicans, Franciscans. The manner of 
Carthusian life is well known, and there were half a 
dozen Charterhouses in Catholic England. Nowadays 
there is but one, Parkminster, under the Sussex Downs, 
established in 1883, as a place of refuge for French 
Carthusians. It now has seventeen priests, mostly 
French, but with a growing English element. 


Canons Regular 

1. Reckoned with the monastic Orders, the Austin 
or Black Canons flourished greatly in Catholic England, 
having several large abbeys. In 1880 members of the 
Italian Lateran Congregation of Canons Regular came 
to revive the Institute in England, and set up various 
houses. They are mainly concentrated in Cornwall 
where is the noviciate house at Bodmin and several 
parishes served by single canons ; there are two houses 
in London, Eltham and Stroud Green. In the com- 
munities a monastic regime is followed. The external 
work is principally pastoral work, either in large town 
parishes, served by communities, or in country parishes 
served by single priests. 

2. The Vremonstratensians or White Canons of St. 
Norbert also flourished in Catholic England. They, too, 
have come back, from Belgium in 1870, but so far the 
revival has been but a small beginning. They have a 
community in Manchester serving one of the large 
parishes ; and they serve three or four small parishes 



The difference between canons and monks may be 
put thus : while monks are religious men living a 
monastic cenobitical life in common, to whom the 
clerical state is a non-essential adjunct, with the canons 
this is reversed : their clerical state is of their essence, 
the monastic element an adjunct. Canons are clerics, 
priests, who take on a monastic regime; monks are 
cenobites who, not originally but from an early time, 
have habitually been in Holy orders. 



Chaucer's " alle the ordres foure " of Fnars 2Lte with 
us again to-day. They are Dominicans or Black Friars, 
Franciscans or Grey, Carmelites or White, and Austin 
Friars ; to them must be added the Servites. They all 
go back to the thirteenth century. 

I. Dominkans, or Black Friars, or Friars Preacher. 
Like the other old English Orders, the EngHsh Domini- 
cans had a house on the Continent, at Louvain, during 
penal times, whence issued forth a succession of priests 
on to the English Mission. On the suppression of this 
house at the French Revolution the English Province was 
thrown on its own resources in England, and after various 
vicissitudes succeeded in estabHshing a noviciate house 
at Hinckley in 1 8 14. This was one of the four religious 
communities of men existing in 1829. But at that 
date and for twenty years more, the old Province 
seemed on the verge of extinction. In 1850 the 
noviciate was moved to better and more monastic 
buildings at Woodchester, near Stroud. Since that date 
the formation of houses with communities has gone on 
in steady progress, so that now the Black Friars have a 
great London house at Haverstock Hill ; also a house of 



Studies at Hawkesyard, Rugeley ; and lesser communities 
at Manchester, Newcastle and Leicester, serving large 
town parishes. A boys' school has quite recently been 
opened at Laxton, Northamptonshire. And most im- 
portant and characteristic of all, a church and friary are 
in process of erection at Oxford, in St. Giles's, to be one 
of the great Dominican international colleges, of like 
standing with those at Louvain or Fribourg. At this 
Oxford college will be a full theological faculty, at which 
scholastic philosophy and the Dominican traditional 
theology of St. Thomas will be taught publicly to all 
comers. The external works of the EngHsh Dominicans 
are very varied. Living up to their name of Friars 
Preacher they give missions and retreats with great 
frequency, and they undertake courses of sermons as 
special preachers. Certain of the best equipped among 
them give at the Universities, both Oxford and Cam- 
bridge and the new Universities, as Manchester, courses 
of public lectures, frequented by University circles of all 
kinds, on apologetics and on philosophical and theological 
problems of the day, grappling with such difficulties by 
the principles of St. Thomas's teacliing. They take a 
leading part, too, in more popular forms of propaganda, 
such as the open-air speaking of the Catholic Evidence 
Guild to crowds of all comers in the London Parks, or 
the Bull Ring in Birmingham. A considerable output 
of high-class apologetic and theological Hterature is to 
their credit. Their priories in the towns minister to 
large middle-class and working-class parishes. Their 
works are manifold ; and it is not too much to say that 
of all the religious Orders now at work in England, the 
Dominicans most fully realise the idea of " mission " in 
its primary sense of effort to bring the Catholic Faith to 
the knowledge of the great masses of the English people. 
2. Franciscans^ or Grey Friars, or Friars Minor. The 



English Franciscans, who had laboured so faithfully in 
the English Mission through the penal times, unfor- 
tunately did not weather the storm of the French 
Revolution. On the destruction of their house at 
Doway they made efforts, which proved unavailing, to 
open a noviciate in England. In 1829 the old Province 
was moribund, and twelve years later it had to be wound 
up, only half a dozen elderly friars surviving. The 
restoration of Franciscan life in England came from the 

The first comers were the Capuchins. They were 
one of the many strict reforms that have marked 
Franciscan history, and date from the beginning of the 
sixteenth century. The Capuchin reform has flourished 
vigorously, and is now one of the three great branches 
that exist side by side in the Order of St. Francis. It was 
in 1850 that Italian Capuchin friars came to England and 
started a friary at Peckham, South London. In the early 
days they did great pioneer work, notably in South Wales, 
under Bishop Brown, founding and nursing missions in 
many parts of the country, to the number of thirty-five, 
which, when fairly established, they handed over to the 
bishops, to be taken on by the secular clergy. The 
head house is at Peckham, the house of studies at Olton, 
Birmingham ; in these houses, and in others at Panta- 
saph, North Wales, and Crawley, Sussex, there are 
strong communities, and there are two or three lesser 
ones elsewhere. Quite recently they have fallen in with 
the current that is carrying all the religious Orders to 
the Universities, and have opened a house in Oxford. 
It need not be said that the Italian element has died out 
long ago, and the Capuchins have become a thoroughly 
English body. In 1870 they were formed into an 
English Province of the Order. True to St. Francis* 
idea, their primary external work is the preaching of 



missions and giving retreats ; and they lay themselves 
out to help the pastoral clergy by sermons and by 
responding to calls for supplies at need. They have had 
among them more than one thinker and writer of 
distinction in the front rank of English Catholic writers 
on theological and religious topics ; and they have given 
to the world what is certainly the best modern " Life of 
St. Francis " in any language. 

Eight years after the Capuchins came friars of other 
Franciscan reforms, since grouped together by Leo XIII 
under the designation of Friars Minor pure and simple. 
They came from Belgium, and in 1858 made a small 
beginning in Cornwall ; they moved after a short time 
to West Gorton, Manchester, where in 1862 was opened 
a friary destined to be for many years the centre of the 
Friars Minor. The head house is now at Forest Gate, 
East London ; there is still a strong community at 
Manchester, also one at Liverpool, one at Glasgow, and 
five or six more with half a dozen priests in each, most 
of them in the great towns where the friars serve large 
working-class parishes, thus carrying on St. Francis' idea 
of ministering to the spiritual needs of the poor ; and 
this is their chief external work. They also undertake 
missions, retreats and sermons. 

The third great group of the Franciscan Order, the 
Conventuals^ also is represented in England ; but they 
came much later and have taken root less firmly, indeed 
they only just exist. They have one small house in 
Liverpool and a couple of parishes, and number only 
eight priests all told. 

The three other Orders of Friars are among us in 
England, but on a smaller scale than the Black and Grey. 

3. The White Friars or Carmelites were strong in 
England in olden times, but they died out completely 
long ago. In 1862 the Discalced Carmelites of St, 



Teresa and St. John of the Cross came to England from 
Spain, the home of the reform, and have a well-known 
and much frequented church in Kensington and a 
noviciate house at Wincanton, Somerset. 

4. The Augustinian Friars , though strong in Ireland, 
are weak in England. They have two or three parishes 
in London, but no community. 

5. The Servites or Servants of Mary, founded at 
Florence at the middle of the thirteenth century, were 
not in England in old Catholic times ; they first came in 
1864 and have their chief house in Fulham Road, South 
Brompton, where a community serves a large parish. 
They have other small communities at Bognor and at 
Begbrook, Oxford, and a few lesser parishes. 

Monks, Canons, and Friars are the " old Orders," 
coming from the Middle Ages ; we pass now to the 
modern Orders and Institutes, the first of which are the 
Regular Clerks, a product of the Counter-Reformation. 

Regular Clerks 

Regular Clerks are by their institute clerics and 
priests, and they are devoted to some particular work or 
works as their own special object. 

I . By far the most important of the Regular Clerks 
is the Society of Jesus, or Jesuits. They have at all times 
since Elizabeth's reign been strong and influential in 
England, and one of the four communities of men in 
1 829 was the Jesuit College at Stonyhurst, near Blackburn, 
Lancashire. Stonyhurst, indeed, was a threefold com- 
munity — the school, the noviciate of the Society, and the 
scholasticate being severally established in three houses 



on the estate. The boys' school was the continuation 
of the old college of the English Jesuits at St. Omer, near 
Calais. During our century the Jesuits have been able 
to form an astonishing number of communities for 
carrying on the manifold religious activities of the Society. 
There are the houses of government and formation of 
the Society itself : two at the headquarters at Farm Street 
in Mayfair ; the noviciate at Roehampton ; houses of 
studies, one in Oxford itself, and one, a year ago, a few 
miles out of Oxford, at Heythrop, Chipping Norton ; 
while the old house of studies at St. Beuno's, North 
Wales, is now the tertian house of the English Province. 
A foremost work of the Jesuits has always been 
secondary and higher education. Of boarding schools, 
besides Stonyhurst, they have opened others at Beaumont, 
Windsor, and at Mount St. Mary's, Chesterfield. These 
schools, above all Stonyhurst, have a fine record in the 
army, in the professions, and in public life. But in 
these days, when the cry is that the most pressing need 
of the CathoUc educational system is the opening of 
efficient secondary day schools in the large towns, perhaps 
their greatest contribution to Catholic education is the 
effort the Jesuits have made to meet this urgent want : 
in North and South London, at Stamford Hill and Wim- 
bledon respectively, in Liverpool, Preston, Leeds and 
Glasgow do they conduct large day schools with much 
efficiency. The day schools are attached to large town 
parishes worked by the Fathers in community, as also 
are many other such town parishes, and lesser ones in 
smaller centres. They give retreats in great number, and 
missions, lectures, sermons ; and they organise and run 
certain widespread confraternities, as the Apostleship of 
Prayer, Children of Mary, Knights of the B. Sacrament. 
A new departure has been the opening of retreat houses 
for working men in Catholic centres, chiefly in the 




North, where workmen go in great numbers to make 
week-end retreats under the guidance of a Father. Also 
should be mentioned the house at Osterley to meet the 
case of " late vocations," those who, having perhaps 
gone into business and later on feeling the call to the 
priesthood, find themselves debarred by lack of Latin ; 
they there receive the instruction that is necessary, and 
in this way a quite considerable number of vocations 
have been saved for the secular clergy and for religious 

In the " Apostolate of the press " the Jesuits have 
been easily the first among the Orders in England ; it 
may safely be said that their output greatly exceeds that 
of all the others put together. They were fortunate in 
recruiting in the 'fifties a number of distinguished Oxford 
converts, who gave impetus to this sphere of activity. 
Their publications are of all kinds — spiritual books, 
controversial, homiletic, biblical, theological, philoso- 
phical, historical ; much of it popular, to meet practical 
religious needs, some of it of high scientific quality. And 
for sixty-five years they have produced " The Month," a 
high-class religious periodical. 

In short, in the many-sidedness and versatility of their 
religious activities, the Jesuits by the very nature of 
their institute surpass all other Orders. 

Other Regular Clerks are the Rosminians,.Redemp- 
torists and Passionists. Their work and their broadening 
influence on the English Catholics in the early days after 
Emancipation, has already been spoken of. The work 
of all three Congregations is much the same : missions, 
retreats, preaching. 

2. The Kosminians or Fathers of Charity have also 
education as an integral part of their vocation. They 
have in England one large secondary boarding school at 
Ratcliff ; their headquarters and house of studies is at 



Rugby ; they are strong in South Wales, where in the 
early days they did good pioneering work, and so now 
they are established in large parishes in Cardiff and 
Newport ; they have lesser parishes in various places, 
among them Ely Place, London. 

3. The Kedemptorists have their headquarters at 
Clapham ; they have houses also at Erdington, Birming- 
ham, at Liverpool, at Monkwearmouth, at Perth, and 
elsewhere. Though it is not usual with them, in England 
they do serve the parishes attached to most of their 
houses. All their houses are communities ; but their 
special vocation being the preaching of missions, the 
ideal is that each Father spend the year half in community 
and half abroad giving missions and retreats. 

4. The Passionists at the beginning got much 
prestige from the holiness and zeal of the first comer, 
Fr. Dominic, and from the fact that in 1847 the well 
known Fr. Ignatius Spencer, Lord Spencer's brother, 
and one of the pre-Oxford converts, threw in his lot with 
them — a man of boundless zeal. Their headquarters are 
in London, at Highgate, where they have a large com- 
munity serving the parish. They are established also at 
St. Helens, at Broadway, Worcestershire, and at Glasgow. 
As with the Redemptorists, their houses are always 
communities, but their vocation as missioners calls 
them out with great frequency. 


Secular Clerks 

These are secular priests living together in com- 
munity, under rule and obedience so long as they abide 
in the community. Two such institutes in England, the 
Oratorians of St. Philip Neri and the Ohlates of St. Charles 
Borromeo, claim special interest from the fact that the 



English foundations were the work respectively of 
Newman and Manning. There are two Oratories, the 
Birmingham Oratory of Newman, and the London 
Oratory of Faber. Both serve large town parishes, and 
by St. iPhilip's special creation of the Little Oratory they 
are conspicuous centres of religious influence on men. 
Newman started the Oratory School, the first attempt to 
graft English public school ideas on to Catholic education. 
The school has had a distinguished record, and has 
recently been transplanted from Edgbaston to Caversham, 
Reading. The Oblates of St. Charles are at Bayswater, 
and serve the parish there, and also parishes in other 
parts of London. 

Under the category of secular clerks fall the Vincen- 
tians, so-called from their founder, St. Vincent of Paul, 
also La^ansfs. They were founded to give missions to 
the poor, but also to undertake the formation of candi- 
dates for the priesthood in seminaries. In England their 
chief work is conducting the Catholic Training College 
for male teachers in the elementary schools ; they have 
also large parishes in Sheffield and Lanark. 


Institutes for Foreign Missions 

The Congregations and Institutes for working 
missions to the Heathen call for a special word. Some of 
the older Orders, Friars and Jesuits, have a missionary 
side, but the definite mission to the Heathen is not 
strongly marked in the English Provinces. 

St. Joseph's Society for Foreign Missions is the only 
English creation of a religious congregation in modern 
times, the first of Cardinal Vaughan's three religious 
creations. Founded in 1866, it is now well established 
and flourishing, and several important districts in the 



mission field are entrusted to it. The Mother house and 
college are at Mill Hill, North London. 

Other Congregations primarily but not exclusively- 
missionary, as Marisfs, Oblates of Mary Immaculate, 
Assumptionists, all have houses in England, the Assump- 
tionists a school at Hitchin ; and divers foreign mission- 
ary institutes have footholds, as the Pious Society of 
Missions, Picpus Fathers, White Fathers, and many more. 

Teaching Institutes 

We speak here of institutes whose vocation and 
work is primarily and essentially secondary education. 
The Josephifes and the Salesians are clerical institutes. 
The former have only one school in England, at Wey- 
bridge. The Salesians are the wonderful institute of 
Don Bosco. They conduct large schools in Battersea, 
Bolton, Chertsey and Farnborough. They also have a 
house of studies at Cowley, Oxford. 

There are non-clerical institutes of teaching Brothers. 
The first and most famous of these is the Congregation of 
Brothers of the Christian Schools, founded 1684 at Rheims 
by St. John Baptist de la Salle, now a world-wide institute. 
It has several secondary schools in England : in South 
London at Norwood, in Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, 
Hexham, Cardiff, Portsmouth, Shrewsbury ; also indus- 
trial schools in Manchester and Glasgow. 

Alongside of them are the Irish Christian Brothers, an 
independent branch of the same institute, in the forefront 
of education in Ireland. In recent times they have come 
to England, first at Prior Park, Bath, and in Bristol ; and 
now they work two large secondary day schools in 
Liverpool, and others in Blackpool and Birkenhead. 

The Xaverian Brothers are of later origin, Belgium, 



1839 ; but they were the first of the kind to come to 
England, 1 848. They now have large secondary schools 
in Clapham, Brighton, Mayfield, Manchester. 

Charitable Institutes of Brothers 

Finally, there are throughout the land a number of 
Brothers of various institutes given up to charitable 
works of all kinds : hospitals, orphanages, homes for the 
aged, (asylums, but not in England) ; care of deaf and 
dumb, and of blind ; nursing, visiting prisons, and other 
great works of mercy. Of such may be named the 
Alexian Brothers, Brothers of Charity, and oj Mercy, 
Hospitallers of St. John of God, and many more. 

It will be of interest to end with some statistics. In 
1829 there were four communities of men of the religious 
Orders. In 1929 there are more than thirty greater 
communities of at least twelve priests and upwards 
living a strong community life according to the nature 
of the divers institutes. In addition there are some forty 
lesser communities of six to twelve priests, where the 
divine office is said in choir in those Orders normally 
bound to choir. And there must be a dozen more 
communities of teaching Brothers staffing the schools 
conducted by them. There are, moreover, several com- 
munities of five priests working large parishes. In all, 
it may be said that there are now well over a hundred 
communities, large and small, of men bound by rule, 
wherein at least five are living together in common life. 

Again, of the 4,800 Catholic priests of England and 
Scotland, 1,600 are regulars. The Jesuits come first 
with 400 ; the Benedictines follow with 330, 260 being 



of the old English Congregation ; of Friars there are 
1 60 Franciscan priests of all kinds, and 75 Dominicans ; 
of Redemptorists, 60. 

Though most of the Orders and Congregations share 
in the work of the pastoral clergy, the serving of parishes, 
especially those in which their communities are planted, 
still predominantly they fulfil their normal function in 
the church life of the country as auxiliary forces for 
carrying on extra-parochial activities, supplementary to 
the ordinary work of the secular clergy : missions, 
retreats, special sermons, lectures, and education in all its 
branches ; and some of them have more leisure than falls 
usually to the lot of a parish priest for the pursuit of 
ecclesiastical study and the apostolate of the press. 

Yet, while in the foregoing sketch it is the external 
works and activities of the religious Orders that have 
been dwelt upon, it must ever be stressed that such works 
are in reality but secondary objects. The primary object 
of all religious Orders has been well set forth in a fine 
passage by a recent Oxford professor of ecclesiastical 
history, writing on the Imitation : " If society is to be 
permeated by religion, there must be reservoirs of 
religion, like those great storage places up among the 
hills, which feed the pipes by which water is carried to 
every home in the city. We shall need a special class of 
students of God, of men and women whose primary and 
absorbing interest it is to work out the spiritual life in 
all its purity and integrity, who give themselves up to 
the pursuit of religion in itself and by itself." ^ This is 
the primary function of every religious community of 
what kind soever, to be a " reservoir of religion." And 
the community through the individuals : Leo XIII once 
laid down that every religious Order has a twofold object, 
the primary being the sanctification of its members by 

1 Dr. Bigg, Wayside Sketches, p. 135. 


the vows and the religious exercisings proper to its 
spirit ; the secondary, the carrying out of the good works 
it devotes itself to. Thus every religious is pledged by 
his state to " aim at perfection " — this is, by the renun- 
ciations of the vows, by self-discipline and mortification, 
to cultivate seriously the spiritual and interior life, and 
above all to be a man of prayer. This is substantially 
true of the most active Orders as of the most contem- 
plative, though the emphasis will vary. It has to be 
remembered that though Dominicans are *' Preachers," 
and though Franciscans were sent by St. Francis to 
minister to the needs of the poor, and though Benedictines 
from the beginning have been used by the Church in 
divers spheres of good works, still they are all ranked as 
** contemplative Orders," and they all stand for contem- 
plative prayer, for meditation and the interior life, as 
indeed do all the Orders. 

And this, probably more than their external activities, 
however good these may be for religion and society, 
is the great outstanding contribution of the religious 
Orders to the modern world, in England as elsewhere, in 
our day no less than in the Middle Ages. And indeed, 
perhaps more in our own day then in past ages is there 
the need of bodies of men who give themselves up 
primarily " to the pursuit of religion in itself and by 
itself." It is by this standard, more than by the standard 
of their practical utility in Church and State, that the real 
value of the religious Orders is to be estimated. 






There is scarcely a more impersonal word in the 

EngHsh language, nor one of more historic content, than 


A mission is opened in England, Central Africa, 
China, the Fiji Islands, and immediately a request is 
made for nuns. Almost any will do, it would seem ! 
All will have the same essential characteristics, and for 
details beyond that one is prepared to make the best of 
them. The harassed and lonely apostle at work in a 
vast district will feel comforted, for his Httle ones will 
be loved and taught, his old people sheltered and 
honoured, his sick and dying consoled, his sinners offered 
sure refuge, and above all Tabernacles will be opened and 
surrounded with loving care, whether it be in a desert 
or a jungle or a great town, and from these Httle spots 
of earth reconquered wholly to Christ the King, He 
will work His work in His own way, through willing 
instruments, however poor, just nuns. 

The oneness of interests in the great army of nuns is 
their strongest asset, they have been mobilised for one 
end and honour one flag. Whatever their nationality 
may have been, it is known and expected that nuns 
^ould have but one aUegiance, that sworn to Christ the 
King. For His work alone they go over all the world. 
For the most part they are nameless Knights, fightin<r 
with closed visor and blank shields, bearing a pseudonym 
for convemence, but to the great world as a whole just 
a nun. They are neither for nor against political parties, 
neither for nor against any age or time, but ready to be 



all things to all manner of men, that they may help them 
into heaven. 

Saint Gertrude, of whom Our Lord said He made His 
home in her heart, was to her age just a nun. Saint 
Teresa of Avila, beneath whose statue in Saint Peter's is 
inscribed the words " Mater Spiritualium " was in life but 
a nun ; so too, even more completely, was that newest 
light, now shining over all the earth. Saint Teresa of Lisieux. 
No women have done more for the world than those 
who were but nuns. Some of the most outstanding 
names in England of our own day are those of religious. 

In the battle that is ever raging between the children 
of God and the prince of tliis world, great efforts have 
been made from time to time, by their enemies, to get 
rid of these troublesome nuns. Protestantism tried to 
abolish them in the sixteenth century, and succeeded 
completely in England only. The Revolution of 1789 
swept them from many parts of Europe and thought 
they were done with for ever. One hundred years later 
it was found there were 16,298 houses of religious 
Congregations of women in France alone ! It had been 
alleged that nuns were cobwebs of antiquity, and 
religious life a time-worn institution, unsuited to an age 
of freedom ! It is indeed an institution of immemorial 
date, and in its nature timeless. For the desire of which 
it is the outcome, is deeply implanted in human nature, 
and has been intensified beyond power of destruction by 
the Incarnation of Christ Our Lord. 

So unprejudiced a witness as a leader in The Times 
has lately declared that " among the most powerful and 
persistent (of the ancient desires surviving to our own 
days) is that of escaping from the pressure of the masses 
. . . into privacy, independence and uninterrupted 
continuity of purpose. Everyone will not confess to this 
desire, but few are free from it. At its highest it urges 



to a life of contemplation." Hence Carmelites, Benedic- 
tines, Cistercians. " In its next degree it prompts men 
to lose and so to find themselves in subjection to an 
impersonal discipline, which some, lacking a monastery 
or the monastic impulse, have discovered in the forces 
of the Crown." The power sought for and gained in 
religious life could not have been more adequately 
explained. Those to whom the monastic impulse is not 
taboo have " found themselves " in the many modern 
congregations which, like the army, serve and fight the 
battles of the world, while keeping free from it through 
their enclosed religious life. However little that en- 
closure may profess to be, there is always some in a 
habit, a common life and ordered duties. 

Wherever the Church has freedom for her normal 
life, there religious Orders will abound. First, women 
will desire to be made one thing with Christ, and then to 
be docile instruments in His hands to work His one great 
work of saving souls. That this is a labour that calls for 
the best of woman's gifts is not hard of proof. It has 
been said, and on the face of things seems true, that a 
large proportion of the human race never, in their 
mortal pilgrimage, pass beyond the stage of spiritual 
babyhood. Thus is it, perhaps, that countless passports 
are vised for Eternal Life. But where and whenever 
children abound, there above all is needed woman's help. 
As Dr. UUathorne once put it : " Wherever a mother 
is wanted by distressed and bereaved humanity, there a 
nun comes in." 

These two desires in the hearts of women have been 
the sources from which multiple orders of the Church 
have had their rise. They have begun in such little 
ways : have been the dream of a girl's heart, longing to 
give her motherly love ; a vision, apparently beyond 
attainment, seen for a moment, then pursued till death ; 



a little flame of hope flickering in wild storms, that 
somehow kept a hold on life and grew to a great light ; a 
longing, an ambition to scale the heights of holiness that 
has flowered in an unimagined glory. 

They are many, but hardly enough when one con- 
siders that whole continents have yet to be won to the 
Kingdom of Christ, and that it is fully recognised that 
permanent success in the Missions cannot be attained 
without the help of nuns. There, above all. Convents 
become centres of Christian civilisation, just as in past 
ages among the barbarian races peopling Europe. At the 
end of the nineteenth century 5 2,000 nuns were at work 
in the mission fields. Though it seems a vast army, it 
might be wished their numbers could be multiplied. 

It has, of course, been said by some that there are too 
many Congregations ; religious life would gain in strength 
and dignity and its influence increase if its forces were 
united in a few great orders, instead of being scattered 
among hundreds of small devoted bands. It has also 
been said that the number of religious vocations is 
diminisliing. Though there is truth behind these state- 
ments, neither, it would seem, should pass unchallenged. 

The needs to which these Institutes are destined to 
devote their services are still more numerous and varied 
than they. At times, in face of these imperious calls for 
help, it has seemed better and has brought a swifter 
succour, to enlist a little band of territorials, than to open 
negotiations with existing troops of the line. Hence new 
religious Orders. Such, doubtless, in the years to come 
will be the beginning of native Congregations among the 
peoples of Asia and Africa. Sometimes the results of 
such a move may not have been successful, but, as it has 
always been from individual efl"orts of this kind that the 
great Orders of the Church arose, it would seem none 
are in a position to cast the first stone of doubt on such a 



venture. None can see, till time has proved it, which 
have and which have not received a spark of a diviner 
life. Each fresh effort made thus throughout the ages 
has been a brave attempt to meet new wants, in what was 
hoped might prove a better way. 

That the number of religious vocations is diminishing 
is hardly credible. It seems truer to say there can 
rarely have been more. But whereas a century ago, in 
England, girls who wished to give their lives to God in 
some religious Order found about eight Congregations, 
distributed in some twenty Convents, from which to 
choose, to-day their choice lies between over one 
hundred and forty different institutions, comprising 
892 Convents. All of these, though necessarily in con- 
tinual need of recruits, manage to carry on their works. 
They experience, perpetually renewed in their favour, 
the miracle of the drop of oil in the cruse. Not an ideal 
state of things for the eager, doubting heart of man, 
longing to rest in assurance on the strength .of gathered 
stores, but one that should bring near to God, as under 
such conditions none can trust to their horses or their 
chariots, but must ever petition at the gates of Heaven, 
just for their daily bread. 

In the rush of modern life, the multifarious activities 
of which tend to stifle thought, this need of prayer to 
give true values to work is more than ever felt. " Greater 
faith in the influence of the Contemplative life," each one's 
own contemplative life, is the universal need to-day, it 
has been said. " Religious have this great lever in their 
hands," wrote the Abbot of Sept-Fons, " and using it 
can rebuild, as no others can, the Christian life in their 

The historic associations of the word nun reach back 
into the furthest ages. The institution has been at all 
times a living monument, recalling and bearing witness 



to another life. The very atmosphere of a Convent has 
something of permanence, something of universality, and 
therefore of that other world. This is a source of com- 
fort or of annoyance to those who visit them, according 
to the attitude of their own minds towards spiritual 
things. In the Great War our Catholic soldiers testified 
to this use of every Convent. Cast out in strange lands, 
they looked for them, and having found them hailed 
them as their own possessions, some little spot in which 
they had a share. 

All through the History of the Church their Idylls 
have been written. The narrative appearing more 
attractive, perhaps, the further off the scene is laid. '* In 
those distant ages," wrote Montalembert of the Convents 
in Anglo-Saxon England, " the nuns formed a great 
army, hardy and dauntless, bearing the glorious ensigns 
of sacrifice with magnanimous serenity and humble 
fervour. They confessed victoriously before the new- 
born Christianity of their age — the Divinity of Jesus 
Christ, the atonement of suffering, the immortal empire 
of the soul over inferior nature." But lest those on 
active service should be discouraged by these glowing 
words, one, Eadburga, writing to Saint Boniface in the 
stress and toil of that same life as lived, said simply : 
" For all these reasons [she had enumerated] and for 
others which could not be told in a day, not even one of 
the long days of July or August, our life is a burden to 
us ! " The confession of Eadburga and the panegyric 
of Montalembert can both be applied to religious 
women of our day. 

But though religious life has always been found in 
the Church it has passed through many varied forms, 
and, as in other things, there has been, it is said, for over 
a hundred years a tendency to return to the primitive 
conception of the earlier days of Christianity. In those 



times religious life was much the same for women as for 
men. It was not until the advent of the Preaching 
Friars in the thirteenth century that papal enclosure was 
made the rule for all professed nuns by a decree of 
Boniface VIII. This legislation was confirmed by the 
Council of Trent, and was even extended to Tertiaries of 
the contemplative Orders by Saint Pius V. Cut off thus 
from all exterior work, the great monastic Orders with 
solemn vows and strict enclosure held their ground for 
long unchallenged, as the only accepted setting in which 
women could devote their lives to God. The modern 
world has found them hard to understand, but once they 
were as familiar as the unchanging landscape and seemed 
to be endowed with the same undying life. They still 
exist to-day, if in diminished numbers. In 191 2 there 
were 11,679 Benedictine nuns and 5,000 Carmelites in 
the world. Their Convents are still the homes of silence, 
prayer and work that they have always been. Their 
utility has, of course, been questioned, but, as it has been 
said, the renewal of the spiritual life that has come to all 
classes of people through Saint Teresa of Lisieux is more 
that sufficient answer to such comment. 

Since the beginning of the nineteenth century when 
the Church modified the law regarding enclosure, 
allowing the forces of religious life to be diverted into 
many channels, thus to water every soil, the number of 
nuns has increased in a wonderful way. The manner in 
which new fields were opened out to them is learnt from 
the story of the development of an idea which came to 
its re-birth some centuries ago. 

Nothing is apparently more ineffective than a truth 
announced out of due time. Yet that it should have 
been uttered was necessary so that dying it might come to 
live, and sinking into the minds of men begin the slow 
process of growth and development. Those to whom 



it is at any time given to see further than their fellow-men, 
and to find ways not yet explored, or perhaps forgotten, 
to work God's work, have suffered, as it were, a martyr- 
dom of mind and hope. 

In the history of religious women as they are known 
in the world to-day there are pioneers of this sort, to 
whom the way was shown into vast fields of work 
awaiting them. They did not reach the promised land 
themselves, but it is they who have truly found and 
conquered and explored it. Their ideal it is that, grown 
and developed beyond, perhaps, their furthest vision, 
has written the lives of Mary Aikenhead and Margaret 
Hallahan, of Blessed Julie Billiart and Mere Blin de 
Bourdon, of Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat and Mother 
Duchesne, of Eugenie de Brou and Madame d'Houet, 
of Blessed Louise de Marillac and Eugenie de Smet, of 
Madame Jehouvey and Jeanne Jugan, of Mother Stuart 
and Sister Mary of St. Philip, of Mother Magdalen Taylor 
and Mother Connelly, and of all Foundresses of modern 
Congregations, and great religious to whom the Church 
in England to-day is so much indebted. 

At the very moment that the greater part of Europe 
appeared to be renouncing its inheritance and cutting 
itself off from the Faith, the geographical discoveries of 
the great explorers were revealing new harvests of souls 
to be gathered in, and the mind of the Church was 
turning with longing towards those mission fields. 
Apostolic men and women was her crying need, though at 
the time the worth of woman's work was at a discount. 
That nuns, however, should be readmitted to an active 
share in the work of the Apostolate, needed at that time 
little less than a revolution in the ideas prevailing with 
regard to religious life for women. 

In response, as it were, to these needs of the Church, 
the Spirit of God, moving over the minds of men, 



brought forth almost simuhaneously and quite inde- 
pendently, two schemes for the conquest of the world 
of souls. 

On August 15, 1534, Saint Ignatius and his first com- 
panions set out upon their great career. In November 
1535, on the Feast of Saint Catherine of Alexandria, 
Saint Angela Merici founded the primitive Company of 
Ursulines. " She would regenerate society by the help 
of non-cloistered religious women, working within the 
family circle." All works of charity were to be their 
business, but especially the education of girls. 

So daring an innovation attracted universal attention, 
and thus was to awaken similar lines of thought in many 
minds. To accept it would have been to open up the 
whole field of social work at once to religious women. 

So strong was the opposition of authority that the 
houses of the Primitive Ursulines, after the death of 
Saint Angela were, in most places and especially in 
France, changed into monastic institutions, and thus 
kept as their sole work the education of girls. No other 
being compatible with solemn vows and papal enclosure. 

But the idea, though frowned upon, had many friends ; 
Saint Angela's brave venture, if apparently defeated, 
had, in reality, set a light upon a candlestick to be seen 
by the whole world. 

In the following century Anne de Xainctonge, Saint 
Francis de Sales and Mary Ward, among others, hailed 
it as the first glimmering of a new star in the heavens. 
In the hearts of all three God kindled the same fire, an 
ardent desire that women should spend themselves as 
religious for the salvation of the world. 

All three were arraigned before the bar of their times. 
Of Anne de Xainctonge Pere Coton, the celebrated 
Jesuit, gave it as his considered verdict that she was 
" the most extraordinary thing he had met with in his 



numerous journeys in France." And when in 1605 she 
stood in person to plead her cause before the saintly 
Prior of the Charter House, the learned Prior of St. 
Benigne, the Cure of St. Medard, and the Dean of the 
Sainte Chapelle, they could only marvel at her audacity, 
and the venerable Prior of the Charter House voiced their 
astonishment " that women could aim so high as to 
desire to do for girls what the Jesuits had been doing for 
seventy years for boys ! " She was extraordinary, for 
*' she wished," it has been well said, " to have the essence 
of Religious Life, and to have that in its entirety, but of 
its exterior forms and secondary characteristics she would 
accept only such as were no hindrance to her end." 

She won her cause, but like the Sisters of Saint 
Vincent de Paul, at the price of renouncing the name of 
religious, till time had explained her meaning. 

The very name of the Visitation, founded by St. 
Francis de Sales, tells the story of a similar desire not 
attained. " Although," he wrote to Mother Favre, " I 
should have found a special sweetness in the title of 
simple Congregation, where Charity alone and reverence 
for the Beloved would serve as enclosure, I agree that we 
shall make a formal religious Order . . . and I make 
this acquiescence with quietness and tranquillity. . . . 
Our Lord's sovereign hand will do more for this little 
Institute than men can think." 

Mary Ward, as Anne de Xainctonge a few years 
before her, was to fight for the same cause. She, too, 
knew what women could do, and did not think, as it has 
been said, " that they needed the perpetual shelter of four 
walls to enable them to give their lives to God." She, 
too, raised her eyes audaciously to the Jesuit model. 

If papal enclosure seemed an obstacle to Anne de 
Xainctonge and Saint Francis de Sales living in a 
Catholic country, far more did it seem so to Mary Ward, 



planning her Institute for the England of 1 6 1 6. Writing 
at the time she said : " I hope in God it will be seen that 
women in time to come will do much." When some 
had spoken disparagingly of her work, and one rash man 
had ventured to say that *' women could not apprehend 
God ! " (Saint Teresa had died less than forty years 
before), Mary Ward wrote with pitying displeasure: 
*' Let us not be made to think we can do nothing. . . . 
Men are, I confess. Head of the Church, women are not 
to administer the Sacraments, nor preach in public 
Churches, but in all other things wherein are we so 
inferior to other creatures, that they should term us 
* but women ' ? For what think you of the word * but 
women ' ? but as if we were in all things inferior to some 
other creature, which I suppose to be man ! ... If they 
would not make us believe we can do nothing, and that 
we are but women^ we might do great matters." 

She was to see her own work crushed, but her heroic 
pursuit of it was a cause of its final triumph. Sixty years 
after her death, in 1703, Clement XI gave a Brief approv- 
ing the Constitutions of the Institute of Mary, but " with- 
out approbation of the Congregation itself." This was, 
perhaps, the first instance of such a favour being con- 
ferred on any unenclosed Religious Society, with simple 
vows and general government. A century had yet to 
pass before the way was opened to the full development 
of this changed ideal. And in fact the upheaval of the 
French Revolution was eventually the means used by 
God to remove the last obstacles. 

As its destructive waves passed over Europe, the 
existing Orders were swept away. A few nuns managed 
to escape to other countries ; a few found a martyr's 
death ; but the great majority were robbed of all their 
possessions and turned adrift in that unfriendly world. 

While political troubles were thus rendering the 



observance of solemn vows with all they entailed, 
difficult, especially for women, the last doubts in the 
mind of the Church as to the need and desirability of 
Congregations with simple vows vanished in the presence 
of a Europe falHng back into paganism. The outlook 
being changed, the Holy See gradually revised the law 
regarding religious, and declined from that time to 
sanction any new Congregations with solemn vows, and 
even suppressed solemn Profession in the old Orders of 
women in France and Belgium. 

With this passing of the demand for strict enclosure 
the chief obstacle was removed which had hindered the 
approbation of new Societies. This formal sanction so 
earnestly sought after is that by which Congregations are 
drawn out of the ranks of mere individual effort and given 
a place in the Church as one of her recognised families. 

Of the new Institutions wliich immediately sprang 
up in Europe, many were to find work in England, and 
practically all went out on the foreign Missions, winning 
admiration by the magnitude and success of their under- 
takings even from those to whom their ideals were 
incomprehensible. *' Madame Jehouvey, c'est un grand 
homme ! " said Louis Philippe, of the Foundress of the 
Sisters of Saint Joseph of Cluny, when brought into 
touch with the work she had inaugurated among the 
negroes in French Senegal. 

It would be impossible, in a few pages, to enumerate 
these religious Orders of simple vows and modified 
enclosure, now in England, much less to give any adequate 
account of the work they are engaged in. But as things 
are to-day this is in no way necessary. Fifty-five years 
ago a book published on the Convents of the United 
Kingdom appeared under what was then, doubtless, a 
most appropriate title : " Terra Incognita." To-day 
that title could not stand. Convent life has been 



explored, its history written, and its map filled in with 
plain and genuine landmarks, replacing the mysteries 
and monsters, which, after the fashion of the carto- 
graphists of old, our ancestors had sketched in places 
not yet visited. 

Chronicles and Histories of religious Orders of 
women, or of individual houses of these Orders, lives 
of Foundresses or of distinguished members of Com- 
munities, have made known the end and meaning of 
religious life and explained, as far as such a thing can 
be explained, how that life is lived. 

The Chronicles of the Augustinians of Saint Monica's, 
who are now at Newton Abbot, the delightful records 
of the English Canonesses that have appeared from 
Hayward's Heath, the Story of the Bridgettines of 
Chudleigh, and other books of the same kind tell of the 
pre-Reformation orders still among us, which were 
brought back into England by the French Revolution. 
These Convents, with two houses of Mary Ward's 
Institute, which had weathered all storms from 1680, 
numbered about twenty when on April 13, 1829, the 
Catholic Relief Bill became at last the law. 

In the course of the struggle over this great question. 
The Times of February 28, 1828, wrote : " The majority 
in the House of Commons on Tuesday night, in favour of 
a repeal of the celebrated Test and Corporation Acts, is 
in truth what may be called a thundering event. It will 
sound from one end of the Kingdom to the other and 
the echo will be heard in foreign parts." 

That event, as Cardinal Wiseman said, in an address 
delivered in Louvain in 1863, " was to us what the egress 
from the Catacombs was to the early Christians." The 
way being at length opened for the normal develop- 
ment of the Catholic Church, Convents began imme- 
diately to multiply. They may, perhaps, be classified as 



Congregations of Irish origin, of Continental origin 
and generally cosmopolitan, and of English origin. A 
classification according to their works would present 
more difficulty, for, while some are definitely engaged in 
only one pursuit, such as the education of children, others 
embrace, under their rule, several spiritual and corporal 
works of mercy. 

Of the Institutes more especially devoted to the 
latter, the first to come to the assistance of the Church in 
England was that of the Irish Sisters of Mercy. In an 
appeal, published in the pages of the " Catholic Directory " 
fori839, the " Pastors of Bermondsey and Rotherhithe " 
begged for help to establish a Convent of this order in 
London. They drew a picture of the happy effects of 
such works in France and Ireland : " while England still,'' 
they said, " remains unaided by these sisterhoods." A 
year later the nuns were at work in the district which has 
known them ever since. 

Of modern Congregations which are of Continental 
origin, among the earliest to find footing in the land were 
several devoted to the work of education. Of these the 
Faithful Companions of Jesus were the first to reach 
London, just one year after the Emancipation of Catholics. 
Their Foundress, Madame d'Houet, arrived friendless, 
as she thought, and almost penniless, to find awaiting 
her acceptance a large house containing a flourishing 
boarding school and day school ; and a dozen girls who 
were only waiting for a chance of entering religious life ! 
In this fairy-talc fashion the first house of the Order was 
opened at Somers Town, then an almost deserted spot in 

This Institute owed its origin in part to Father Varin, 
S.J., and was one of a group of three or more which will 
be for ever connected with his name : The Society of the 
Sacred Heart, founded by Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat, 



which came to England in 1842, opening the house at 
Roehampton in 1850 : and the Congregation of Notre 
Dame, founded by Blessed Julie Billiart, the first house 
of which was opened in Penryn, Cornwall, in 1845. 

Of the work of this last Order it was said in 1920 
that to it we owe " in large measure the present numerical 
strength of CathoHcs in England." That so great a 
claim can be made is due, not only to the generosity and 
breadth of outlook of the order, but to the life-work of 
Sister Mary of St. Philip in the Training College at 
Mount Pleasant. It was her courage and her many- 
sided personality that carried it to success. Through the 
work done there by the Sisters of Notre Dame the 
Church was enabled to face the immense problem of 
compulsory elementary education in 1 870, and to provide 
a sufficiency of trained teachers for Catholic schools, to 
save the faith of generations of children. From the 
earhest days of her Institute, Blessed Julie Billiart had 
foreseen tliis need of training Catholic teachers, " who 
would be ready to go wherever they were wanted," and 
she had included this apostolic work among those to be 
undertaken by her daughters. From the very earliest 
times, too, the nuns had served their apprenticeship of 
dealing with the intricacies of Government organisation 
in the department of Education. When they first went 
to Holland in 1807, WilHam of Orange-Nassau, King of 
the Netherlands, was inaugurating a petty persecution of 
rehgious Communities in order to prevent their expansion 
and the consequent growth of the Faith in his land. 
The methods he adopted were new at the time and 
evidently thought to be of overwhelming force. Innumer- 
able heart-searching forms were drawn up to disgust and 
bewilder teachers, especially foreigners, and diplomas 
had to be obtained at most limited notice after rigorous 
examination in Dutch and French. These would seem to 



our generation like the toy guns of children, accustomed 
as we are to the marvellous intricacy and astonishing 
variety of forms which emerge from every source. 
And as for examinations, they can frighten but few, 
having now been extended from adults to infants. But 
even in 1 807 King William was mistaken in thinking that 
the nuns could not face his arms, nor adapt themselves 
when necessary to modern methods. Mere St. Joseph 
was more than a match for him, and steered her course 
so successfully through all difficulties that when in 1829, 
finding she had not gone, he came himself to visit her at 
Namur, he was so delighted with all that he saw that he 
conferred Dutch citizenship upon her. It was with the 
same brave spirit that Sister Mary of Saint Philip also 
won her laurels. There are now nine Catholic Training 
Colleges under nuns in Great Britain, all of which look 
with gratitude to the one that blazed the trail. 

Among these religious congregations engaged in the 
work of education, several still have modified enclosure. 
This has at times been looked on with disfavour, and 
yet in this restless age, where aimless hurry and perpetual 
uproar accompany us all day long, childhood might gain 
if it could find a quiet spot from which " the stress and 
beat of human life could be for a time removed," as 
Mother Stuart wrote, speaking of the formative influence 
of the quiet of the woods and fields on child life. That 
something of these *' halls of space and avenues of leisure " 
is to be found within those Convent schools, it may 
perhaps be claimed, and this without prejudice to the 
many-sided interests of the children's lives. 

The ten years from 1850 to i860 saw the Little Sisters 
of the Poor established in London, Manchester, Bristol, 
Birmingham, Plymouth, Leeds and Newcastle, so greatly 
was this work of loving self-devotion needed and, once 
known, always appreciated. 



It was an event, when in 1857 the first cornettes of 
the much loved Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul 
were seen in Sheffield. In 1927 this world-famed 
Congregation had sixty-two houses in England. The 
same year that brought them to the country saw the 
opening of the Assumption Convent in Kensington 
Square. Cardinal Wiseman had greatly desired to have 
a house of tliis Order in London, that he might through 
it establish Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament 
in his diocese. 

Before the close of the century many other Communi- 
ties brought their meed of help and opened Tabernacles 
in long-lonely districts. Among them were the Helpers 
of the Holy Souls, an order with an Apostokte for both 
worlds ; the Institute of the Cenacle, founded by Marie 
Therese Couderc ; to give retreats was the end of 
this Congregation of women, and it has been approved 
by Rome. 

The Little Sisters of the Assumption were also 
harbingers of a new ideal, and inaugurated a work of quite 
special character : ministry to the sick poor in their 
houses. *' Could companies of these Little Sisters be 
multiplied in all the large centres of population," wrote 
Cardinal Bourne in 191 7, *' it would not be long before 
home-life would be transformed and supernaturalised." 

In 1 891 friends were found for worldng girls, 
when in response to Cardinal Manning's appeal : *' Go 
to my China ! " a Convent of Marie Auxiliatrice was 
established in the East End. In the person of its 
foundress, that Order had been put through a school of 
suffering, such as must have won for it the power to 
understand all sorrow. 

While the greater number of religious Congregations 
are therefore, as in pre-Reformation times, of Continental 
origin, a few among us can claim their English birth. 



But with the Catholicity that belongs to all such Institu- 
tions they have now gone out from England as Apostles 
to other lands. 

Among these Congregations, Mother Margaret 
Hallahan's work has priority of place. Dr. Ullathorne's 
wish was to found a religious community devoted to 
active works ; Mother Margaret's determination was 
never to be anything but a Dominican. The outcome 
of these two wills is known as the " English Congre- 
gation of Saint Catherine of Sienna." There were 
twenty-two Convents under its rule in 1911. 

The year 1 847 opened the first chapter in the History 
of the Congregation of the Holy Child, when a house was 
founded at Derby by Mother Connelly. It is with St. 
Leonard's, however, that the traditions of the Order are 
bound up, and from there it spread throughout England 
and America. Mother Magdalen Taylor's Community 
of the " Poor Servants of the Mother of God " owed its 
name to a similar Congregation in Poland, but in all 
else was of English origin and founded in London in 
1870. "The Foundress," said Cardinal Bourne, in the 
Preface to her newly published life, "was one of the 
outstanding women whom God raised up for the 
rebuilding of His Kingdom in England. She is not 
unworthy of being associated in thought with Mother 
Janet Stuart and Mother Margaret Hallahan." A con- 
gregation with a somewhat similar end was founded at 
Nottingham by Bishop Bagshawe in 1884 : the Sisters of 
Saint Joseph of Peace ; and still earlier in the century, 
about 185 1, the Sisters of the Cross and Passion began a 
work for factory girls in Manchester. Schools of aU 
kinds are also in their hands. In 1877 the Sisters of The 
Little Company of Mary founded their twofold work of 
nursing the sick and praying for the dying. They already 
have houses over all the world. 



The same may be said of the Franciscan Missionaries 
of Mary, an Order wliich originated in India in 1877 
under Mother Mary of the Passion, who had left her home 
in Brittany at the age of twenty-one to devote herself to 
the welfare of the natives. She began her great venture 
by Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in a lonely little 
chapel in the Nilgherry Hills. In 1925 her Congregation 
already counted 164 houses. 

In 1908 an attempt was made to revive what was an 
old tradition connected with the name of Saint Catherine 
of Sienna, when a Community of Dominican Secular 
Tertiaries, known as that of Corpus Christi, began work 
at Leicester. Recruits have already gone out to Trinidad 
and the United States. 

Many other companies should find mention here of 
this great army of religious women, always standing ready 
for service, undismayed by trouble or adventure. A 
friendly critic of the life of Mother Stuart wrote : " I 
was right in my judgment, it is Romance of the finest kind ; 
for the essence of romance is great love, great courage and 
the conquering of difficulty and danger, and of all these 
things the ' Life ' is full and skalin, as the Scotch version 
of the Psalm says." What was here said of one life is 
a true verdict on many. The romance of great love, great 
courage and high adventure is found in the story of every 
religious Order. 

Nuns have been loved and made little of, praised and 
blamed, but they themselves are without illusions either 
as to their weakness or their power, to the roughness of 
the way or the immensity of the work awaiting them and 
their successors to the end of time. 






Catholic laywomen have developed their influence during 
the past hundred years in an atmosphere partly foreign to 
them. I shall, therefore, treat my subject as a story to 
which the general history of the woman's movement will 
serve as chorus. The relationsliip between the two 
histories has been so close, their interaction so important 
that, separated, the Catholic one would be almost unintel- 
ligible. When in 1829 Emancipation was at last granted, 
and Catholic women realised that henceforth they would 
not form part of the quarry of a slackened hunt, they knew 
themselves to be in many ways scarred and spent by the 
long chase ; and yet at the same time to be gloriously free. 
They had acquired a spiritual fortitude and had preserved 
an inner moral liberty which were not characteristics of 
Eno-lish women at the beQ-innin^ of the nineteenth 
century. As they looked around at the neighbours with 
whom, in the coming friendliness of wliich there were 
already signs, they might now expect to mix more freely, 
they must have wondered how much they still held in 
common. The French Revolution and the Napoleonic 
Wars, wliich had shaken the whole world had shaken some 
.obsessions from the English mind. Religion, even a 
non-English one could act as a buttress to civilisation and 
become a constitutional asset. On the outbreak of the 
French Revolution the English Government had welcomed 
and assisted some 8,000 emigre Priests and had not only 
permitted them the practise of their religion, but had 
allowed them to minister to the scattered EngUsh Catholics. 
Exiled nuns had likewise been sheltered and permitted to 



Open in this country tlie schools which they had carried on 
abroad. Tlie indifFerentism which was then fashionable 
in the upper classes contributed to the growing tolerance 
which accepted the presence of the Catholic Mrs. Fitz- 
herbert at Court, as the privately married wife of the 
Prince of Wales. Her story illustrates the tenacious 
character and the strong hold on moral principle of the 
penalised Catholic woman. Her personality won uni- 
versal respect, and it would be difficult to fix a limit to 
the influence, both direct and unconscious which she 
exercised in obtaining sympathy for her co-religionists. 

The Jacobite cause had long been utterly dead. When 
in 1824 French workmen, excavating among the founda- 
tions of a chapel in the Church of St. Germain, had 
chanced on a leaden casket inscribed with the Royal arms 
of England and the declaration that it contained portions 
of the body of James II, George IV ordered that it should 
be buried with Royal honours. The English men and 
women of different faiths who, in Paris, followed the 
Catholic rites of that funeral of a long-dead Stuart, were 
also laying to rest the mere ghost of a long-dead dynastic 

And yet not the Stuart cause but the Cathohc Faith 
had been the magnet wliich had drawn Catholic girls 
across the water all through the penal days, to seek 
education in those convents in which so many of their 
countrywomen were already living as nuns. 

Characters have long ancestries, and we must glance 
both at the distant and the immediate past if we are to 
understand those of the Catholic women of 1829. 

From the time of Elizabeth onwards from the most 
remote inland districts outwards to the coasts had run 
those well-trodden but uncharted ways to Catholic liberty. 
No country seat, no isolated farm, no tavern, no humble 
home where CathoHcs dwelt but was known and counted 



Upon. Young women set out on perilous journeys with 
strangely disguised escorts and with high courage. The 
English families have kept their chronicles, the Convents 
abroad have kept theirs and have preserved them through 
wanderings and exiles. Together they form an epic in 
which, towards the end, is recorded the return of many 
an English nun fleeing from prison and pursuit on the 
Continent to the shores of her own country now turned 
from persecutor to protector. Nor had English Catholics 
been entirely deprived of the means of educating their 
girls in their own land. From the time of Cromwell 
down to this day a school has been maintained at York by 
the English nuns of the Institute of Mary. The Convent 
chronicles relate by what subterfuges, through what 
perils, and by grace of what local sympathy this end 
was achieved. Hammersmith, too, always a centre for 
Catholics, sheltered during the same period a school kept 
by the same Order, until, after the Revolution, it passed 
into the hands of French Benedictines. By the beginning 
of the nineteenth century at least five other boarding 
schools for girls had been opened by exiled orders. By 
means of young women of the upper classes who had been 
taught in these schools, education was spread to the girls 
of the less well to do through small private schools in 
towns, or in villages near the country seats of Catholics. 
The penalty for this zeal was imprisonment for life, small 
wonder then that these little schools avoided publicity 
and that it is only here and there that published records 
allude to them. And what of the education itself, in what 
did it differ from that in the country at large ? It would 
seem at all points to have had the advantage. On the 
secular side languages were better taught ; needlecraft 
had been preserved as a traditional art, history included 
that of Europe. It provided above all an intensive 
spiritual culture, and developed that power of mental 



concentration only to be secured by the practice of 
meditation. It was an age of discipline and repression 
for the young, but in the convent schools the girls breathed 
an atmosphere of supernatural peace, whether they lived 
under the shadow of danger or shared in the innocent 
gaiety of the cloister, fidelity to the tilings of God was 
equally the cause. 

It was very much a religion of the Four Last Things 
which survived the penal days in this country. One 
stripped of sentimentality, of all sensuous aids, all exotic 
devotions. It was a religion most faithfully observed. 
The little band of English Catholics had developed a 
civilisation peculiarly their own ; that of rural England 
without its provincialism, its insularity. That of a con- 
servative England, played upon by the spirit of old France, 
a little blighted by Jansenism. These country people of 
the upper classes, during the winter months, frequented 
the embassy chapels in London and diplomatic society. 
Yet in their hearts they remained unflincliingly English, 
treasuring in their homes the relics of martyrs, their own 
Idnsfolk, and caring for the spiritual interests of their 
humble neighbours while awaiting better days. 

The Protestant scheme of society had made too narrow 
a provision for women. Under it her sole destiny was 
marriage. Her upbringing was directed to equipping 
her with what the taste of the times demanded in a 
candidate for that estate. Even the wordly counted a 
little religion, if it were tactful and accommodating, as 
among the adornments of a woman. In those days 
women, together with the entire working-class population, 
were expected in the sentiment of the Anglican Catechism 
to order themselves lowly and reverently towards their 
betters. Protestant philosophy offered no outlet for a 
superabundance of women, and England, in sending her 
men-kind out over the world, retained a much larger 



number than matrimony could absorb. The great mass 
of these were without solid education, without independent 
means, and without freedom. The once essential house- 
hold industries were rapidly disappearing from the more 
prosperous middle-class homes which, adopting the 
aristocratic tradition, forbade all renumerative work to 
its women. This unmarried class formed a shadowy 
third estate in social life, which was held in little honour, 
but which provided auxiliary service for the family. 

To the great reserve of energy stored up in these quiet 
but unsatisfied lives came the seeds of revolution. Brought 
across the Channel by free-thinking spirits at the beginning 
of the century as the " Rights of Women " and the 
" Equality of the Sexes," the gospel rapidly found 
adherents amongst those who had little sympathy with the 
general revolutionary programme upon which it had 
appeared. The soil was most prepared exactly where 
conditions of life were becoming intolerable, in a country 
with a population in which the sexes did not balance, 
and in which the religious outlook was restricted to the 
limited horizon of the reformers ! The English mind was 
favourable for the early culture of a claim wliich, although 
revolutionary in a social sense, was, in an ethical one, 
virtually a demand for an extended application of Christian 
teaching. The distaste for speculative thought which 
characterises English women, their practical good sense 
and instinct for order, led them to concentrate on a first 
step of immediate service in bettering their conditions. 
Leaving aside the logical conclusions of moral free-lances 
and ignoring the sexual licence indulged in by some of the 
advocates of women's freedom, they entered upon a cam- 
paign for securing better education for their sex, and thus 
obtained the key to the whole position. The forcing of 
that door is by now an oft-told tale, and cannot detain 
us here. Meanwhile, Queen Victoria, applauded by the 



growing moral earnestness engendered by the Evangelical 
movement throughout the country, had set her court in 
order, and had made conjugal fidelity a popular ideal. 
The middle of the last century saw the culmination 
of Protestant influence in social life. Protestantism had 
been living on its moral capital and was unconscious of its 
powerlessness to lead should ethical guidance be called 
for in changed conditions. Women on the contrary were 
becoming confident and courageous, and it was the 
pioneers of the Feminist movement who often provided 
the incentive which the Protestant church failed to give. 
Thus, though the Victorian outlook reverenced " good " 
women, it was essentially class-bound and lacking in 
justice. The women's movement was essentially demo- 
cratic in that its solicitude embraced the entire sex. Thus 
the 'sixties wliich first saw public examinations opened to 
girls, saw a woman's public championship for the human 
rights of the prostitute. 

The multiplication of religious Orders of women in 
this country during the earlier half of last century only 
concerns us in so far as their presence contributed to the 
shaping of the lay mentality. In tliis they played a notable 
part. Three elements must be welded into one whole if 
an effective laity were to be secured — the descendants of 
English Catholics, converts, and Irish emigrants. Parish 
life had yet to be developed, a social life did not exist. In 
these circumstances convents became centres of extra- 
mural influence. The incoming Orders were, until the 
'seventies, almost without exception of French origin. In 
some cases they were after-Revolution foundations de- 
signed to meet the educational needs of a half-paganised 
youth and to revive the weakened faith of older women. 
With this view they were accustomed to organise 
sodalities and retreats for the laity, and to interest them- 
selves in individual converts. Those were days of 



autocratic parental authority when a father felt justified 
in casting out a daughter penniless from the home if she 
became a Catholic. Instincts of the old hunt lay in the 
subconscious mind, and so late as the 'forties and 'fifties 
the common people felt it legitimate sport to throw 
stones at Catholics on their way to Mass. Habits of 
aloofness are not easily overcome in such circumstances, 
and the convents alone afforded for their lay guests the 
sympathetic and stimulating atmosphere in wliich their 
spiritual life could unfold. To say that a French spirit 
pervaded the revival of Catholic life in this country is 
not to accuse it of being a foreign spirit in a nationalist 
sense. In after-Revolutionary France Catholics were, to a 
great extent, withdrawn from public life and from a society 
with which they had little sympathy. They developed 
their own culture which was predominantly spiritual, and 
which was perfectly adapted to meet in this country all 
the needs of a people wliich had not attained a corporate 
life. The incoming converts who were finding their 
way to the faith through opposition and prejudice were 
usually women of character who, for the most part, 
entered religion and strengthened the English elements in 
the Orders. Others contributed to the building up of a 
Catholic literature, and took a leading part in works of 
charity and the development of parochial social service. 
It would be true to say that up to the close of the last 
century the quiet but steady development of lay women's 
activity and influence was on the traditional lines of 
Continental Catholic benevolence and that this period 
culminated in the erection by Cardinal Vaughan of an 
English Branch of the Association of the " Ladies of 
Charity " founded by St. Vincent de Paul in 1602. 
Individual women here and there were towards the end 
of the last century entering civic life, becoming guardians, 
school managers, and so forth, that they might watch 



over the interests of their co-religionists. The poorer 
element had been enormously increased by the successive 
Irish immigrations culminating in that of the great 
potato famine of 1849. We have seen that the English 
Catholic remnant was steeped in the supernatural, the 
convert was versed in apologetics, to these was added 
the tenacious spirituality and high combative courage of 
an Irish element. Starving and destitute the Irish sought 
these shores in such numbers as to constitute a problem 
for government, and to tax Catholic charity to the 
utmost. But their coming was a great spiritual asset, 
and one which will be increasingly understood as the 
fabric of the social order which has been built by 
Protestant hands fails to resist the assaults of paganism. 
For these emigrants were of the same blood and the 
same spirit, as those left behind in Ireland, who died by 
the roadside, their mouths stuffed with grass to stay the 
pangs of hunger rather than drink the soup proffered 
by government agents as the price of apostasy. The 
women of that trek eastward had a great capacity for 
motherhood and were capable of unbounded sacrifice. 
Whether they have prospered or have continued poor, 
they remain in this country the faithful upholders of 
Christian marriage and the Christian family. Of these 
three component groups of CathoUc life that of converts 
rapidly increased towards the end of the century. 

Meanwhile all the contributory streams tending 
towards woman's emancipation from convention and 
baseless tradition were converging into one insistent 
demand for the franchise. The little rills irrigating 
distinct areas were become a stream in spate. In the 
closing years of the last century the political aspect of 
the movement occupied so much public attention that 
the formation of very important women's societies at an 
earlier date and which are still doing valuable work, is 



apt to be overshadowed. These societies, which were 
formed with a view to securing particular ends, became 
schools of political training and the means of developing 
a civic sense in their members. We single out one in 
particular, because of its unconscious share in bringing 
National Catholic Women's Leagues into existence. 

In 1888 a group of leading women in this country, 
members of various societies for the protection and 
education of women, in conjunction with a similar group 
in America, decided to promote international gatherings 
in order to extend and strengthen the woman's move- 
ment. Thus the " International Council of Women " 
came into existence. In 1895 various women's societies 
in England, which were occupied with some form of 
social service, were gathered into an organisation known 
at first as " The National Union of Women Workers " 
(now as the " National Council of Women ") for the 
purpose of holding annual conferences. These unofficial 
women's parliaments could claim to exercise a substantial 
influence on pubHc opinion, their debates were reported 
in the general Press, their resolutions were forwarded to 
government departments. Naturally, their atmosphere 
was predominantly Protestant, although Jewish societies 
were admitted. Direct mention of religion, which was 
not recognised as having authority to lay down social 
principles, was excluded from debate. Courtesy to all 
was practised in these neutral assemblies, and subjects 
were treated only up to the point at which they could be 
dealt with on common ground. Women's interests and 
the humanitarian outlook of the late Victorian period 
provided the binding cement. An atmosphere of 
achievement, of security, and of confidence in the future 
pervaded these platforms. It was believed that Anglo- 
Saxon women had a message to deliver ; and they cer- 
tainly had an aptitude for organisation to communicate. 



If on some rare occasions a challenge by free-thought 
was given in these English conferences, it obtained 
a shocked and very brief hearing. The waters of 
security closed over the incident. No one looked for 
any writing on the wall. But when the attempt was 
made to impose EngUsh platform procedure on Inter- 
national assembUes, unforeseen difficulties occurred. 
Feminism in proportion to its adoption by revolutionary 
and anti-religious parties had been, if not altogether 
distrusted, yet very cautiously adopted by the people of 
Catholic countries. CathoUc and anti-clerical refused to 
share the same platform, because both were sufficiently 
logical to recognise that their creeds formed the roots of 
mutually destructive social systems. On the Continent 
it was the case of a church claiming to teach and to lay 
down moral principles for acceptance or refusal. The 
situation abroad, therefore, was very different from that 
in this country. It was found impossible to advocate 
a merely abstract claim for women's equality with men 
when in practice all its supporters put forward by way of 
argument the highly controversial changes and reforms 
which, in their opinion, would ensue. The practise of 
urbanity and tolerance was inadequate where antagonistic 
aims were involved. In 1904 this International ParHa- 
ment of women met in Berlin. It was attended by a 
number of Catholic women interested in the feminist 
movement. They at once took in the situation. Here 
was a new force, a new power in the world, but one wliich 
was not necessarily Christian. There was no mistaking 
the capacity and zeal of these women, but the Conference 
was individualistic and opportunist in tone, and by the 
necessities of the situation must continue to be so. Their 
answer was the formation of the National Catholic 

Meanwhile in this country towards the end of the 



last century the tranquil waters of Catholic life began to 
stir. Some force was working beneath the surface. 
Hitherto the religious life of all three elements in the 
social body had been intensified by some form of suffering. 
Now a generation had grown up without this experience. 
New types of converts were coming into the church, 
women practically free from parental control and 
economically independent. In the course of training 
for professions they had seen the trend of much in the 
world of youth which was away from Christianity. The 
young were not merely drifting out of religious practice 
as their parents had done, they were eager crusaders in 
the cause of *' new thought." The outlines of the in- 
evitable ultimate struggle between Catholicism and a new 
paganism were beginning to be visible. As seen from 
without, the Church had appeared to these newcomers as 
the guardian of all the rights for which women were 
striving, the protector of a healthy feminism within the 
framework of Christendom. Arrived within, they found 
a people who it seemed to them were side-tracked from 
the main road of national effort, who were making of 
life a quiet ante-room of Heaven, and who knew nothing 
of the need outside of what they had to give — that 
supernatural vision, that tenacity to principle, which 
their whole history had fostered. 

A small group set to work to try to persuade 
Catholic laywomen that a great opportunity of corporate 
influence lay open for them. That organised as a 
National society they could take their place in women's 
conferences, as the upholders of Christian social prin- 
ciples in their integrity. As a first step a quarterly 
magazine was published, a voluntary venture without any 
commercial aim, in order to provide a means of propa- 
ganda. It not only soon attracted an interested group 
of Catholic women in this country but established 



sympathetic correspondence with those abroad who were 
engaged in the same task. A great many changes which 
have since been secured were urged in its pages, notably 
the removal of the embargo against Catholic women 
entering the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. 
After two years of preparation the Catholic Women's 
League came into existence, encouraged and protected 
by the Archbishop of "Westminster, afterwards H.E. 
Cardinal Bourne. Its first executive committee con- 
tained an equal number of members of old Catholic 
families and of converts, and as far as possible all con- 
ditions of life were represented. For, above all, the 
movement was to be democratic in this sense that the 
relationship of its members would not be that of a giving 
by the more fortunate classes to the less fortunate, but 
that of comrades working side by side for social recon- 
struction on Christian lines. Its promoters foresaw 
something of the rapid development in the social educa- 
tion of the industrial classes and their increasing share in 
civic life which is apparent to-day. Not only was this 
League to leave party politics entirely alone, a matter 
comparatively easy for unenfranchised women but, what 
was more difficult, it was to leave all efforts for or 
against the franchise to speciaHsed societies to which 
Catholics could and did adhere according to their views. 
So far as public work was concerned, the aim of the 
new undertaking was simple enough, namely, to uphold 
Christian ethics in a period of rapid change and vital 
challenge. Witliin the Catholic body lay the formidable 
task of preparing lay women for the multiple forms of 
social service in which they should be sharing, of arousing 
their interest in the reforms already secured through 
women's influence, and stimulating a healthy education. 
A period of intensive work must be entered upon if the 
new organisation was to attain the requisite standard of 



efficiency. Not only must the art of public speaking be 
mastered, procedure must be acquired, a practical organi- 
sation devised, and varied studies undertaken. Moreover, 
the general membership must be familiarised with the 
virtues needed for " team work," in which they were 
quite unpractised. It was essential that a corporate 
social conscience should be engendered. Personal inter- 
course could alone do this in the case of a thinly scattered 
people. Provision was made at the outset for the 
holding of frequent committees and councils to be 
composed of delegates from all branches and sections, as 
they should be formed. In no other way could the more 
populous Catholic north with its greater heritage of 
tradition and its simpler social life have been welded with 
the preponderately convert south with its closer links 
with general national life. The acceptance of this new 
movement within the Catholic body was very gradual. 
To many it appeared merely as a version of the social 
disorder beyond the Church's borders ; as the enemy 
creeping into the fold. With two or three exceptions 
however, the Bishops accorded the freedom of their 
dioceses to the movement, several were its warm 
champions. The approval of parish Priests came more 
slowly, and the progress of the work can be likened to 
that of water, which finds its way only where an uneven 
ground permits. 

In 1907 Catholic women, including nuns, came up to 
the old universities, and henceforth, with the rising 
standard of secondary education, the number of women 
entering professional life and the various social services, 
official and voluntary, steadily increased. The Catholic 
Social Guild made its appearance in 1909 with a view to 
promoting social study among the youth of both sexes, 
mainly of the industrial classes, thus increasing the num- 
ber of young workers fitted for corporate social work. 



In 1 910 the Catholic Women's Suffrage Society was 
formed by a group of women who wished to give 
corporate Catholic support to the claim. 

By the end of the first ten years of the century 
Catholic laywomen were venturing well out upon the 
high road of modern life. Meanwhile, on the Continent 
the Catholic women's movement was rapidly spreading 
and modern methods were being adopted on all sides. 
Proposals came from the recently formed French League 
for the formation of an international federation. An 
inaugural meeting was held in Brussels during August 
1 9 10 at which the Leagues of ten European countries 
were represented. A federation was agreed upon and a 
provisional constitution approved. This was further 
developed at a meeting held in Madrid during the 
following year. To that of Vienna held in 191 2 the 
Holy Father Pius X, who had noted the movement with 
interest, sent a request that a report of the proceedings 
should be submitted to liim. At the last pre-war meeting 
held in London in 191 3, by which time the number of 
affiliated National Leagues had increased to 40, the Holy 
Father was officially represented. At tliis meeting the 
constitution received its final form, and the federation 
under the title of l' Union Internationale des higues Catho- 
liques Feminines was officially recognised by the Holy See. 
Already it had been possible to discern the subtle action 
of international intercourse, broadening here, deepening 
there, extending loiowledge and infusing zeal. At home 
Catholic women, though absorbed in the struggle for 
efficiency and self-development, remained essentially 
unspoiled, in that they placed spiritual welfare far above 
physical comfort or material security. They still thought 
in terms of eternity. In this they often taxed the patience 
and outstripped the comprehension of the more materially 
minded of those with whom their work might bring 



them in contact. In this difference lay, and still lies, 
their power both to influence and to antagonise. 

During the war all the efficiency which has been 
acquired was put to the test and Catholic women as a 
corporate body took their full share in the National 
effort. The success of this work, the stress laid on the 
spiritual needs of those for whom it was undertaken 
went far to reconcile to modern methods those Catholics 
who had hitherto held themselves aloof. When, in 
191 7, a limited franchise was granted to women and thus 
new duties were imposed even on the unwilling. Catholic 
women joined organised societies and undertook public 
work in greater numbers. Notably did they help 
forward the work of the newly-established Catholic 
Evidence Guild for teaching Christian doctrine at open- 
air meetings. All dioceses were now open to this 
laywomen's movement and parochial barriers began 
to fall rapidly. 

In 1919 Pope Benedict XV notified his wish that the 
Union Internationale should renew its sessions. Many 
difficulties lay in the way — the absorption of the leaders 
of constituent Leagues in after-war problems at home, 
fatigue, poverty, limited train services, and so forth. 
However, in 1921 a preliminary meeting was held in 
Cracow, and in July of 1922 a full conference took place 
in Rome. Over fifty Leagues were then represented, 
including those of Canada, the United States and South 
America. It was in many ways a changed assembly. 
Formerly it had been concerned with the voluntary 
social effort of women whose knowledge of the actual 
conditions of life was in some countries and in some 
directions a Umited one. War had now stripped the 
veils from the social sores of life. Where revolution 
had swept women had been enfranchised with a stroke 
of the pen, there were those present who sat in the 



Parliaments of their own countries, and who had taken 
a share in repelling the attempt to overthrow the Christian 
basis of civilisation by means of the legislature. Infor- 
mation brought to the conference of the varied methods 
of attack was first hand and well documented. Catholic 
defence and counter-attack were the subjects of discussion, 
spheres of influence had become national. At the end of 
the sessions H.H. Pius XI appointed a Cardinal protector 
to the Union. 

At home Catholic Englishwomen found themselves 
in a much more baffling position in the matter of outside 
relationships than that of their sisters of countries in 
which the struggle between the Church and a new 
paganism was open and clear-sighted. After- war England 
had thrown off most traditions but had retained one 
delusion. It still believed that there was some alchemy 
in English approval, which deprived any practise or pre- 
cept of its power for evil. Christianity, for great masses 
of the people, had come to mean no more than a vague 
benevolence ; anyone was a Christian who chose to cover 
his or her private opinions with the label. Numbers 
of women, slightly intoxicated with their own material 
efficiency, became self-constituted social reformers. 
With dangerous impulsiveness they accepted new pro- 
posals which seemed to promise immediate benefits 
of a material kind. A whole new outlook on life had 
come to the surface. The binding cement of Protestant 
Victorian ideals had utterly crumbled away. Propositions 
such as increased facilities for divorce, the mechanical 
prevention of birth, the merely companionate nature of 
marriage, the proposal to give an equal status to the 
legitimate and the illegitimate child, all of them items of 
the well-planned anti-Christian attack elsewhere, were in 
this country being welcomed with an almost innocent 
irresponsibility by women who had never studied 



Christian principles or pondered their consequences. It 
almost seemed that their island security had played the 
part of a nursery wall, cutting them off from reality. In 
the midst of this Catholic women are standing four-square, 
doing their utmost in their civic work and public relation- 
ships to influence and enlighten public opinion. They 
are strengthening and developing protective work for 
girls and women against immoral propaganda, and they 
are endeavouring to develop an intellectual defence and 
even a counter-attack. All trace of hesitation and of 
false timidity has disappeared. The widespread nature 
of the peril has done much to unite all classes. 

In making these somewhat sweeping claims we do not 
lose sight of the fact that adherents of organised work 
are always surrounded by a margin of the indifferent or 
that there are a number of individualists in any community 
who yet do effective and influential work though unable 
to co-operate with others. But the movement which set 
out to create a National Catholic laywoman's influence 
cannot be said to have failed, when it now numbers 
II 6 branches and sections the delegates from which in 
assembly constitute in effect a Catholic woman's Parlia- 
ment. It is a parliament, too, with a certain amount of 
executive power, since every branch and section is able 
to give some measure of effect to its resolutions. If its 
numbers are small, some thirteen thousand, those of the 
Union Internationale, of which it forms part, attain to over 
twenty million. So much for corporate influence. The 
sphere of the Catholic woman's direct personal influence 
is proportionately enlarged. She is fully enfranchised 
and is eligible for Parliament. She now fills the 
Mayoral office, sits on Municipal Councils, and on the 
Magistrates' Bench. She is adequately represented in 
all professions and callings. 

At the beginning of the last century we found 



Catholic women standing crippled and isolated in the 
midst of a securely established and innately hostile 
Protestant society. They had remained essentially 
English, and were wholly Christian. To-day, greatly 
increased in numbers, they have become an integral part 
of national life. They stand wholly Christian and 
essentially English in the midst of a crumbling Protestant 
society, ready to spend all they have of gifts and of 
influence in helping forward the reconstruction of all 
things in Christ. 







Seven years after the passing of the Catholic 
Emancipation Act, Henry, fourth Duke of Newcastle, 
a Tory die-hard of the more extreme type, moved in the 
House of Lords for " returns of all Roman Catholic 
chapels, with the dates of their erection, also returns of 
all monastic establishments, distinguishing whether for 
monks or nuns, together with the number in each ; also 
for returns of all Roman Catholic colleges and seminaries 
in England and Wales, distinguishing those which belong 
to the Jesuits; and also of the number of Roman 
Catholics in 1799, and their progressive increase down 
to the present time." In introducing this motion the 
Duke stated that Popery was alarmingly on the increase 
in Great Britain; that in 1835 there were 510 Roman 
Catholic chapels in England ; while, sixty years before 
there had been only thirty. " In addition to this, eleven 
new churches were building ; and at Kidderminster and 
Dover, Protestant chapels had been turned into Popish 
chapels. There were also eight Popish colleges and 
seminaries, the object of which was manifest." Com- 
menting upon this utterance in its next issue, the Dublin 
Review showed no inclination to repudiate the allegations 
made. " We can assure his Grace," said the writer, not 
improbably Wiseman himself, " that he has underrated 
the number of new churches now in course of erection : 
they are certainly not less than forty, not to speak of 
four or five which have been opened this year. The 
number of our British colleges amounts to nine." 



On referring to Hansard, one discovers that the 
report, which the Dublin Keview had probably obtained 
from The Times or some other newspaper, was not 
entirely accurate. The Duke had read to their Lordships 
an article in The Neivcastk Journal, and in it there was 
question, not of England merely, but of Great Britain, 
so that Scotland was included. The estimate of 510 
chapels, therefore, was pretty near the mark, though in 
England and Wales the total in 1829 (Emancipation 
year) had been less than 400. But whatever the increase 
in numbers may have been, the vast majority were still 
very tiny buildings, and many of them were only the 
private chapels of Catholic gentlemen to which the public 
were admitted. From the account in the Dublin Kevieiv 
it would seem that the return asked for by the noble Duke 
was agreed to with some modifications, but I have been 
unable to find any trace of it in the official index of 
Parliamentary Papers. On the other hand, a week 
before the discussion in the Lords, an address in the 
Commons demanded a return of the number of registered 
Dissenting Meeting-houses and Roman Catholic chapels 
in England and Wales. This was duly made, and on 
July 14 of the same year, 1836, it was ordered to be 
printed. For statistical purposes, however, the docu- 
ment is utterly worthless, and we may perhaps conjec- 
ture that the failure in this case was the reason why the 
fuller inquiry asked for by the Lords was not proceeded 
with. A letter had apparently been sent out to each of 
the Clerks of the Peace in the different counties and to 
the Town Clerks in the urban districts ; but the results 
were very disappointing. While a few of the Clerks 
thus addressed had taken evident pains to obtain infor- 
mation and to provide a tabulated statement — ^the Town 
Clerk of Norwich is conspicuous in this class — the great 
majority of the replies are quite ludicrously baffling and 




laconic. Many answered that they had no record of any 
chapels having been licensed in their district ; others 
declared that they were unable to distinguish between 
Dissenting meeting-houses and Roman Catholic chapels, 
others again implied that the Justices at quarter sessions 
sometimes issued a licence and sometimes did not trouble 
about it. The majority of the returns seem to have been 
made in two lines, followed by the Clerk's signature. 
Thus, for example, in the case of the county of Northamp- 
ton : 

Number of licensed Dissenting Meeting-houses 195. 
Number of Roman Catholic chapels - - none. 

Charles Markham. 

One of the most quaintly worded replies is that 
returned from Bewdley (Worcestershire), then a town 
with about 4,000 inhabitants. 

The return from Bewdley as respects the number of 

meeting-houses is four. A Roman Catholic chapel the return 

for is nil. ,^7 xt -mt 

W. N. Marcy. 

Still, even from these very unsatisfactory materials a 
certain amount of useful confirmation may be obtained 
of the data furnished from the Catholic side by the Laity's 
Directory. We may take as a case in point the borough 
of Cambridge where, for the last thirty years, one of the 
finest Catholic churches in England has confronted the 
visitor as he makes his way from the station towards the 
great University centres. Strangely enough, Cambridge 
was the a/ma mater of some of the most ardent converts 
to Rome in those early days before the Oxford Movement 
began, of such men, for example, as Kenelm H. Digby, 
Ambrose Phillipps De Lisle, and the Hon. George 
Spencer.^ Of De Lisle, or Lisle Phillipps, as he was called 

^ There are notices of the first two in the D.N.B. ; of the third a very full 
account is given in The Life of Father Ignatius Spencer, C.P., by Father Devine. 


at that time, it is recorded that when a student at Trinity 
in 1825, he and his friend Kenelm H. Digby, used to ride 
over to Ware every Sunday morning, a distance of 
25 miles, in order to hear Mass and receive Communion. 
Quite in accord with this story we find in the Laity's 
Directory for 1 829 the following entry headed Cambridge- 
shire : 

Sewston Hall, near Cambridge, Rev. E. Huddleston. The 
late venerable Bishop of the Midland District had long enter- 
tained the design of establishing a permanent mission in the 
town of Cambridge ; which measure was strongly recom- 
mended by the celebrity of the place, the daily increasing 
number of resident Irish Catholics, and the fact of there being 
no public chapel in the whole county. Influenced by the same 
weighty reasons, the present Vicar Apostolic of the District, 
the Rt. Rev. Dr. Walsh, has determined to act upon the 
intentions of his illustrious predecessor ; and under such 
high sanction the Rev. Edward Huddleston, who has been 
appointed to this arduous and destitute mission, appeals to 
the piety and generosity of the Catholic public in support of 
a measure at once so auspicious to religion and so creditable 
to the Catholic cause. 

Nevertheless, some thirteen years elapsed before the 
town of Cambridge possessed a Catholic chapel of its 
own. In the return of 1836 the Town Clerk reports 
" there are not any Roman Catholic chapels in Cam- 
bridge," and the Clerk of the Peace for the county 
remarks : " there is only one Roman Catholic chapel in 
this county and I do not find any entry of a licence for 

The fact was that though the Duke of Newcastle, in 
the speech above referred to, encouraged their Lordships 
to believe that a sum of £400,000 " had been remitted 
from the Continent to this country and Ireland for the 
purpose of promoting Popery," the progress of Catholi- 
cism in rural areas was all along very slow. In the towns, 



development was much more rapid, and the very natural 
enthusiasm of those Catholics who witnessed this growth 
was often taken in bad part by the Evangelicals who 
lived in apprehension of a plot to overthrow the British 
Constitution and introduce Romanism. The Catholic 
journals of the time contained a good many self- 
congratulatory notices in the tone of the following 
extract : 

Times have changed very much, and we are not insensible 
to the exertions of those liberal, enlightened statesmen that 
brought about the change. We have now a large chapel at 
Moorfields, which all the world frequent, and where for years 
the truths of religion have been without fear announced. The 
Borough chapel, near the Belgian ambassador's chapel, was 
some forty years since opened in a narrow dirty lane ; the best 
term it deserved was that of a wooden shed. It contained 
about two hundred ; and in every respect was a most miserable 
dwelling for a house of sacrifice. The new chapel in the 
London Road, which was substituted for the old one, holds 
about one thousand ; but the congregation belonging to it is 
nearly twenty thousand. East Lane Chapel, Rotherhithe, near 
the site of the once princely abbey of Bermondsey, can 
number from two to three thousand of a congregation. 
Virginia Street, once an hospital for foreign sailors, was at 
first nothing more than a room for the priest. This has 
swelled into one of the most capacious chapels in London, and 
the few that knelt and prayed in the priest's room to hear Mass 
has increased to the ten thousand of the actual present con- 
gregation. The congregation of Lincoln's Inn Fields is ten 
thousand at least. Warwick Street Chapel, most repair to it, 
not for the prayers, but for the music. Spanish Place Chapel 
has a congregation of six thousand.^ 

This passage was selected among others by the writer 

1 I take this from Frasers Magazine, March 1839, p. 264. The only 
reference given is to " the Catholic Magazine at the close of 1834 " ; this seems 
to be incorrect, but the quotation is no doubt authentic. Strange to say, 
almost every one of the buildings here mentioned has now disappeared, having 
been replaced by a more spacious edifice. 



of two articles in Fraser's Magazine (March and April 
1839) in illustration of the " vaunting " spirit of Popery, 
and to stimulate his Protestant countrymen to use their 
best energies in counteracting it. There can be no 
doubt that the party whom he represented were seriously 
alarmed. In the October of the previous year (1838) a 
similar article had appeared in the influential and very 
widely-circulated Blackivood's Magazine under the title of 
" The Progress of Popery," and this seems to have been 
at once reprinted in pamphlet form by the Protestant 
Association. They must have sold well, even at 3d. 
apiece, for copies still dated 1838 bear the imprint 
" ninth thousand." The Fraser's Magazine articles were 
accompanied with a map of Great Britain dotted over 
with tiny black crosses, each of which was meant to 
indicate the location of a Catholic chapel. In Lancashire, 
Middlesex, and Stafford they are so numerous that they 
look as if they were meant to indicate forests. Neither 
was this the first attempt made to bring the rapid diffusion 
of Popery home graphically to a too indifferent public. 
A similar map had been issued in 1833 by the " Reforma- 
tion Society " with a marginal letterpress in which 
attention was drawn to the fact that the number of 
Catholic chapels in England and Wales had, in ten years, 
grown from 358 to 423, and those in Scotland in like 

There can be no doubt that after the passing of the 
Catholic Emancipation Act this matter of church 
accommodation, at any rate in the towns, was taken in 
hand very vigorously. In 1 840 there were 469 churches 
and chapels, and by 1850 these had further increased to 
581. In 1 8 90 there were 1,335 Catholic places of worship 
open to the public, and in the present year, 1929, there 
are 2,183, c>f which 1,546 are registered for marriages. 
With regard to the number of priests no very precise 



information is available for the early years of the 
nineteenth century. The Laity's Directory supplies no 
alphabetical list, and the question is complicated by the 
presence in the country of a good many survivors of 
the French emigre clergy. One would be led to suppose 
from a list of those who had signed a certain " Form of 
Declaration of Catholic Communion " printed in the 
Laity s Directory for 1830, that there were no less than 
89 French priests who were still available — at least for 
the purpose of saying Mass. But we do not know how 
many of them were infirm, or incapable of missionary 
work owing to their ignorance of the language, and from 
time to time, no doubt, opportunities offered by which a 
certain proportion were able to return to friends and 
relatives in France. Probably in 1829 the 395 chapels in 
England and Wales were served by rather fewer than 
500 Catholic clergy. In 1850 there were 788 priests, in 
1890 there were 2,478, in 1929 there are 4,310. Of 
course, it must not be forgotten that during the century 
1 829-1929 the population of England has nearly trebled. 
It was still a little short of 14 millions in 1831 ; it is now 
considerably in excess of 39 millions, despite the appalling 
decline of the birth-rate in recent years. ^ But even 
since 1 890, during which time the population has increased 
by a third, or, in other words, in the proportion of 3 to 4, 
the Catholic churches have increased almost by two-thirds 
and the Catholic clergy have increased by rather more 
than two-thirds, i.e. by more than the proportion of 3 to 5 . 
This, it is plain, seems to mark progress. It would 
imply that, while other denominations are demonstrably 
losing ground, the Catholic Church is not only keeping 
abreast of the increase of the population, but distinctly 
gaining upon it. 

^ Already in 1926 the population of England and Wales, according to the 
official estimate of the Registrar-General, was 39,067,000. 



Shortly after the delivery of the Lincoln judgment in 
1890 the then Archbishop of Canterbury (Dr. Edward 
Benson) published a pastoral letter which seemed intended 
to allay for the benefit of Evangelicals any suspicion of 
Romanist sympathies which the terms of the earlier 
pronouncement could have excited. He declared his 
conviction that despite all that had been said of the 
menace of Ritualism, Englishmen at large were in no 
danger of being led to the Church of Rome. " It has 
been shown," he wrote, " that in all these years she has 
effected here a multiplication of edifices and institutions, 
but not of souls ; that she makes no statistical progress. 
No, the ancient Church of England is with us. I do not 
fear that the new Italian Mission will make anything of 
our clergy or people." Mr. Gladstone, when in 1894 he 
published his pamphlet on " The Vatican Decrees," had 
also said something very similar, and it must be admitted 
that there were considerations which seemed to show 
that in spite of a more efficient equipment and organisa- 
tion, the Catholic Church in the preceding half century 
had lost quite as much as she had gained. 

That these views were based upon a misunderstand- 
ing of the true position of affairs will, I believe, be made 
clear to anyone who studies the facts of the case fairly 
and impartially. In times of exliilarating progress an 
optimism is apt to prevail, which, especially under the 
stimulus of persuasive oratory, paralyses the judgment, 
so that men very readily assume that to be true wliich 
their partisan sympathies regard as desirable. This 
tendency was, as I conceive, at the root of a very ill- 
founded belief that the Catholics in England shortly 
after the passing of the Emancipation Act already formed 
nearly a tenth part of the existing population. It is, 
perhaps, not quite certain whether it was the fears of the 
No-Popery alarmists or the enthusiasm of the newly- 



emancipated Catholics which contributed most to the 
propagation of this crazy idea, but it is in any case likely 
that the two influences reacted upon each other. I 
cannot find that the Vicars Apostolic gave any kind of 
encouragement to the extravagances here referred to. 
Bishop Briggs in making his report to Rome in January 
1839, estimated the number of the faithful in the Northern 
district at about 180,000, and his Vicariate was by far the 
most Catholic of the four. Bishop Griffiths, in a similar 
report to Rome dated June 1837, claimed only 157,000 
Catholics for the London district. On the other hand, 
those in the Western district, according to Bishop Baines' 
very detailed report submitted in 1840 did not exceed 
25,000.1 For the Midland district no official statement 
at this period seems to have been preserved, but 
Bishop Baines, the Western Vicar Apostolic, who 
travelled about England a good deal and was keenly 
interested in a new redistribution scheme of the Vicariates, 
regarded the flock of his Midland colleague as only half 
as numerous as that of Bishop Briggs in the North.^ 
This would give us a total of a little over 450,000 for the 
whole of England and Wales, or — allowing a margin for 
Catholics settled where no chapel existed — let us say 
roughly half a million. 

Now it was just at this time that the articles, already 
referred to, appeared in Blackwood and in Fraser's 
Alaga^ine. The first of these, after pointing out that 
there were 43 Roman Catholic chapels then building, and 
that, whereas forty years before no single popish college 
existed in the country, *' there were now ten, as well as 
sixty seminaries of education, besides chapel schools," 

^ All these figures will be found in Mazi^re Brady's Episcopal Succession in 
England, Scotland and Ireland, vol. iii. pp. 201, 280 and 316. They were 
extracted from the original reports in the Roman archives. 

* See Bishop Baines' letter to the Cardinal Prefect of Propaganda, printed 
in Bishop Ward's Sequel to Catholic Emancipation, i. p. 235. 



proceeds further to state with all the emphasis of 
capitals : 

It must be remembered that the Roman Catholic population 
of Great Britain is now very little short of two millions, and 
that there is, as we have shown, great wealth among their 

I have not been able to trace this estimate of two 
millions any further back, and I believe that the writer in 
Blachvood was the father of it. Naturally it caused a 
sensation. The Times took the matter up, and inevitably 
the discussion eUcited comments on the CathoUc side. 
For all those who were interested in " the Association of 
Prayers for the Conversion of England," which had 
shortly before been organised in France by the Hon. and 
Rev. George Spencer, afterwards a Passionist, such an 
assurance of the progress of Catholicism was a valuable 
aid in the propaganda they had undertaken. Hence we 
find prominence given to it in the Catholic Maga':(ine for 
January 1859, where the editor among other observations 
remarks ; 

We are incHned to think, but are not quite sure, that our 
number is overrated when reckoned at two milHons by the 
writer in Blackwood. We are certain, however, that if our 
numerical strength be not yet so great, it must become so ere 
long, as the conversions to our faith, acknowledged by the 
better informed among our opponents, satisfactorily prove. 

Naturally, the same estimate was taken for granted 
in the two alarmist articles which appeared shortly 
afterwards in Fraser's Magazine, but, almost equally as a 
matter of course, it was improved upon. Blachvood had 
used the phrase " very little short of two millions in 
Great Britain." In Fraser's we now read that " the 
number of Roman CathoHcs in England and Wales is 



estimated at two millions," and the lesson is driven 
home by the further statement : 

It would be impossible exactly to ascertain the number of 
Roman Catholics except under the authority of a Parliamentary 
Order, but if the number is about 2,000,000, then they are 
nearly twenty-nine times more numerous now than they were 
in 1780, while the population of the country is only double 
what it was in that year. 

These articles, like that previously referred to, were 
reprinted by the Protestant Association as a pamphlet, 
and in this way the legend obtained further currency, 
figuring shortly afterwards in a speech delivered by 
O'Connell at a CathoHc meeting held on July 15, 1839, 
in the Freemason's Hall. 

Have we not a right (he said) to come forward and to claim 
for all — not for Catholics alone, but for the Protestant Dis- 
senters, for every class — the right to be free from the control 
of the State in the management of their reUgious education ? 
(Hear, hear and cheers.) Have not the Catholics the right to 
demand this ? How many are we ? We are 7,000,000 in 
Ireland (cheers). They say we are at least 2,000,000 in Great 
Britain. I believe that it is not exaggerated. In Liverpool we 
are 100,000 ; in Manchester, 70,000 or 80,000. However, say 
only a milHon and a half — we are 8,500,000. What other per- 
suasion has so many attached to it ? Not the Presbyterians ; 
they are only 3,000,000. Not the Wesley an Methodists ; 
they are but about 300,000. Not the EstabUshed Church; 
they are but 7,000,000. And when one talks of the Established 
Church it is hard to say who belong to it. I know a most 
respectable family in Dublin stated to belong to the Estab- 
Hshed Church : the eldest daughter frequents the Derbyites ; 
the other the Calvinists ; the third the Established Church ; 
the father does not go anywhere, reminding one of Paddy's 
description of a " bitter good Protestant " (which in Ireland 
means an Orangeman) : " He ates meat of a Friday, hates the 
Papists, and goes nowhere of a Sunday." (Laughter and 



But the discredit of this over-estimate, though it 
seems to have originated on the Protestant side, fell upon 
the Catholics. A Church of England journal, the 
Ecclesiastical Gazette, in the middle of 1840, published 
an indignant protest leading off with the following 
characteristic sentence : 

As the Roman Catholics still continue to assert, or to inti- 
mate indirectiy, that their number in Great Britain amounts to 
about two millions, and as it is evident that this is an enormous 
exaggeration made to serve a particular purpose, it seems 
desirable to ascertain as early as may be their real numencal 

Accordingly the writer in support of his protest drew 
attention to the small number and very diminutive 
proportions of the CathoHc places of worship and more 
especially laid stress upon the Registrar-General's figures 
for the working of the new Marriage Act, which had 
come into operation in 1838. The number of Catholic 
marriages returned was only 1,629, and this corresponded, 
so he argued, to a total Catholic population for England 
and Wales of 223,987. Still this was certainly too small 
an estimate. The truth was that the CathoHc layfolk, 
many of them poor and uninstructed, had not yet 
reaUsed that it was possible, or at any rate that it was a 
matter of strict obligation, for them to be married 
according to their own ritual. The additional fee which 
had to be paid to the registrar for witnessing the marriage 
acted as a deterrent. Hence the inference deduced from 
the small number of CathoHc marriages sinned as much 
by defect as the estimate objected to had sinned by excess. 
In any case, one argument which can now be framed 
seems unanswerable. If there were only 1,629 Catholic 
marriages in 1838, and in 1924 there were, according to 
the Registrar-General's returns, 16,286, the CathoHc 
population must have multipHed tenfold in the interval, 



while the population of the country as a whole has not 
even trebled. But we may readily admit that in 1 840 the 
controversialists on both sides were very much at sea in 
this matter of statistics, and the Catholic Directory for that 
year affords curious proof of the differences of opinion 
which prevailed ; for while on one page data are supplied 
which would seem to correspond to a total of less than 
700,000 Catholics, the editor, in another place, expatiates 
on " the religious aspect we now behold in Great Britain 
— a Catholic population of nearly two millions in a 
country where the Catholic religion and name were 
almost extirpated." 

In the year 185 1 a sort of "census of religious 
worship " was attempted in England by counting all 
those who, on Sunday, March 30, attended the morning 
and evening services in the churches and chapels of all 
denominations throughout the country. Such an enu- 
meration was bound to prove unsatisfactory from the 
point of view of reliable statistics, for in the case of the 
Catholics more particularly, many of those who went to 
Communion at an early Mass were present again at the 
High Mass and thus were counted twice over. At the 
same time, the official who edited the results in 1854 was 
probably not far from the truth when he expressed the 
opinion that " the total number of persons professing 
Roman Catholicism in England and Wales cannot be 
less than 1,000,000 and probably exceeds that number." 
The total population at that date was as nearly as possible 
18 millions. The Registrar-General's returns showed 
that 4.8 per cent, of the marriages were celebrated 
according to the rites of the Catholic Church. Roughly 
spealdng, this would imply that about a twentieth of the 
population were Catholics ; for though it is true that 
mixed marriages were numerous, and these, being for 
the most part celebrated with Catholic ritual, gave the 



Catholics more than their share, still there were many- 
marriages irregularly contracted in Protestant churches 
by careless and easy-going people who nevertheless had 
no idea of apostatising from the creed in which they had 
been brought up. One definite element in the situation 
which cannot be ignored is the fact that in 185 1 the 
Census returns showed that over 500,000 people then 
residing in the country had been born in Ireland. Now 
certainly the vast majority of these were Catholics, even 
if they were far from fervent in the practice of their 
religion, and there was also a pretty large alien contingent 
of Italians, French, Belgians, etc., most of whom had 
duly received baptism in their childhood with the forms 
of the Roman ritual. To these we have to add a con- 
siderable number of converts, the first fruits of the 
Oxford movement, who had already in 1 8 5 1 made their 
submission to the Holy See. There seems, therefore, 
nttle ground for quarrelling with the estimate just men- 
tioned of 1,000,000 Catholics in 185 1, but it must also be 
remembered that a considerable proportion of these were 
recent immigrants driven over to England by the Irish 
famine and the miseries it brought in its train. They 
did not, for the most part, make tliis country their 
permanent home, but passed on to America or Australia, 
as soon as friends were able to supply them with sufficient 
money to pay their passage in an emigrant ship. At the 
census of 185 1, 29 people out of every thousand enumer- 
ated in England and Wales had been born in Ireland. 
At the census of 192 1 the Irish-born numbered only nine 
in every thousand. 

What, as regards our Catholic population, is the 
present position of affairs ? The question is one of 
great difficulty, owing to discordant views as to what 
constitutes a profession of Catholicism, to the unreliability 
of returns which are based, not upon enumeration but 




Upon general impressions, and especially to the unknown 
factor of leakage, the loss to the Church of those who, 
having received Catholic baptism in their youth, gradually 
drift away into infidelity or indifference. There can be 
no question that the number of these last is very large 
and that the process is greatly facilitated by the mul- 
tiplied distractions and amusements of modern life, as 
well as by the tendency to forsake the country and to 
congregate in towns. The negligent in new surround- 
ings fail to make themselves known to the clergy and 
get lost. One cannot be blind to the fact that a 
certain amount of the church-going in old days was 
due to the dullness of life. A man was led to attend 
church services, because such attendance was something 
to break the monotony of existence. But having set 
foot in church even from- the least worthy of motives, he 
was often prompted to say his prayers and heard an 
occasional sermon which helped him to keep the com- 
mandments. Nowadays the cinema, the concert-room, 
and the motor char-a-banc are powerful rivals to every 
place of worship, and the careless soon lose the habit of 
church attendance. All religious denominations suffer 
in greater or less measure. We cannot be surprised that 
there is leakage. None the less, despite the leakage, 
there is good evidence that the Catholic Church in this 
country still continues to make statistical progress — not 
only absolutely, but even relatively to the increase of the 

And first of all there is the positive and, as I think, 
quite reliable evidence of conversions, the returns made 
from every diocese of those who after a period of 
instruction and, in a sense, of probation, have made their 
profession of faith and have, for the most part, received 
conditional baptism. Since 19 14 these figures have been 
printed annually in the Catholic Directory. It may be of 



interest to repeat the totals here. The first group deals 
with the conversions from 191 2 to the end of the War, 
the second with those since the beginning of 1919. 







































1912 to 1918 


1919 to 1927 


The two groups together yield a total of 167,135 con- 
verts received during a period of 16 years, and con- 
sequently an average of rather more than 10,000 a year. 
Scotland, it is to be noted, is not included in these lists. 
Many, of course, of those who have entered the Church 
during this period have since died. Some few have 
gone back or lapsed into agnosticism. But the vast 
majority remain with us as active and fervent CathoUcs. 
Those who being baptised and educated in the Faith 
afterwards fall away are for the most part the careless and 
the pleasure-loving. The converts who replace them 
are, as a rule, keen in their zeal for religion and it rarely 
happens that their change of creed does not involve some 
measure of personal sacrifice. 

But the factor upon which I am inclined to place most 
reliance as evidence of the statistical progress made by 
the Catholic Church in England during recent years is 
the returns of our infant baptisms. In 1927, the last 



year for which the figures are available, these amounted 
to 65,176. Let it be noted in passing that the number 
is in no way exceptional. There were 65,411 in 1925, 
67,565 in 1924, and 68,445 i^ '^9^5- Now the total 
number of births in 1927 — we are, of course, speaking 
always of England and Wales — was 654,969.^ It must at 
once be evident that if 65,176 of these infants received 
baptism at the hands of a Catholic priest, the Church can 
claim very nearly a tenth part of the coming generation 
as formally entrusted to her religious keeping. If one 
argued crudely, one would be tempted to infer from this 
that very nearly one-tenth part of the population made 
profession of Catholicism. As the estimated population 
in 1926 was 39,067,000, this would mean that the 
Catholics in England and Wales numbered well over 
three and a half millions. I am not so sure that this 
would be an exaggerated estimate, if we were content to 
count as a Catholic every manand woman who would write 
themselves down R.C. if they had to fill in this detail in 
a census paper. But clearly there are deductions to be 
made. In the first place there are a very considerable 
number of mixed marriages. If the promises made by 
the non-Catholic party in such a contract are faithfully 
adhered to, all the children will be baptised Catholics, 
though the inference that all their family belongings are 
Catholics would be quite unjustified. Of still greater 
importance is the question of birth restriction. This, it 
is to be feared, is not unknown even in Catholic families, 
but it is quite well understood even by the most unedu- 
cated that the practice is condemned by the Church, and 
consequently the number of children born to Catholic 
parents is undoubtedly in excess of the average which 

1 In as much as the total births for England and Wales decreased from 
694,563 in 1926 to 654,969 in 1927, the proportion of Catholic infants has 
increased rather than diminished. 



prevails among parents of other denominations. Unfor- 
tunately, one can only state the difficulty and leave it. 
No sort of test is possible of the allowance which should 
on that account be introduced into our calculations. 

Next in importance to the baptism returns are the 
statistics for Catholic marriages. These come to us from 
two sources, the registers of the churches in which the 
marriage takes place, and the official returns of the 
Registrar-General. For some years past the former, like 
the infant baptisms and the conversions, have been 
printed annually in the Catholic Directory. The latter, so 
far as concerns the form of the celebration of the marriage, 
are only computed every five years, and the latest state- 
ment we possess is that for the year 1924. With regard 
to this last, the editor of " The Registrar-General's 
Statistical Review of England and Wales for 1924 " 
remarks (p. 134) "Roman Catholic marriages have 
continued their considerable increase in proportion 
noticeable since 1909," and he adds that " the northern 
industrial counties, particularly Lancashire, are the 
stronghold of Roman Catholic marriages." This is the 
more noteworthy, because, as is well known, dispensa- 
tions for mixed marriages are very rarely accorded in that 
region. Now in 1924 the total number of marriages in 
England and Wales was 296,416. Of these, 16,286 were 
returned by the Registrar as having been celebrated in 
Catholic churches. This implies that 55 marriages in 
every thousand were Catholic marriages, and if we 
applied the same proportion to the population as a whole 
we should be led to the conclusion that 2,045,000 were 
sufficiently earnest in their practice of Catholicism to wish 
to get married by a priest of that denomination. On the 
other hand there would be a reduction to be made for 
the mixed marriages, for the family connections of such 
a pair will presumably be half Protestant. When, 



however, we compare the Registrar-General's figures 
with those returned by the Catholic clergy in the 
Catholic Directory, we notice a great and very significant 
discrepancy. According to the Registrar-General the 
number of Catholic marriages in 1924 was 16,286 ; 
according to the clergy returns the Catholic marriages 
numbered 20,394, a difference of more than 4,000. A 
similar disagreement is manifest on all the other previous 
occasions when it was possible to confront the figures of 
the Catholic registers with those of the state officials. 
In 1 9 19 the Registrar-General could .only vouch for 
19,078 Catholic marriages, whereas our own registers 
showed 21,751. Or, to take an example on a more 
limited scale, in 191 2 the Registrar's return for the two 
counties of Cheshire and Shropsliire, which form the 
diocese of Shrewsbury, recorded only 416 Catholic 
marriages. But the number sent in by the clergy them- 
selves was 476. A prejudiced critic might easily suppose 
that there was deliberate falsification or, at any rate, gross 
negligence on the part of the parish clergy who sent in 
these figures ; but the explanation is quite simple. The 
excess of 4,000 entries in the Catholic registers for 1924 
is simply the record of marriages put right. The parties 
had previously contracted in an Anglican church or 
civilly before the Registrar, and afterwards, repenting, 
had gone through the ceremony before the parish priest 
of one of them, thus validating the union in the eyes of 
the Church. It must be abundantly plain then, that the 
Registrar-General's returns can by no means be trusted 
as presenting the sum total of all the Catholics who con- 
tract matrimony, and if we assume that the real figure 
was nearer 20,000 than 16,000, we should obtain a ratio 
of something like 7 per cent, of Catholic marriages 
which would correspond to a total population of 
Catholics numbering close upon three millions. 



Everything, of course, depends upon the definition 
we adopt of what we mean by a Catholic. If we only 
include under that term those who " fulfil their Easter 
duties " and normally hear Mass on a Sunday, the 
estimate of 2,156,146 which stands in the Catholic 
Directory would probably be even excessive. The com- 
piler appends a footnote, referring especially to the 
estimates of the Catholic population in each diocese, to 
the effect that *' these figures in many cases cannot be 
accurate." And, indeed, when we notice that in the 
instance of three such dioceses as Westminster, South- 
wark and Salford, the same estimate has remained 
unaltered for the past eleven years, it must be evident 
that no more has been aimed at than a very rough approxi- 
mation. But if, on the other hand, a Catholic be under- 
stood to be one who would not repudiate the description 
himself, who was willing to have his children baptised 
in the faith and would probably welcome the help of a 
priest on his death-bed, the evidence seems abundantly 
to warrant the conclusion that there are at present rather 
over than under three million souls who, subject to a less 
rigid interpretation of the term, could fairly be described 
as Catholics. The population of England and Wales 
has not much more than doubled since 185 1, and if we 
may take one million as a reasonable estimate of the 
expansion achieved after 21 years of Emancipation, the 
development of Catholicism during the last 80 years has 
rather more than kept pace with the natural increase to 
which the vital statistics of the country bear witness. 





When we really wish to know how the world is going, 
it is no bad test to take some tag or current phrase of 
the Press and reverse it, substituting the precise contrary, 
and see whether it makes more sense that way. It 
generally does ; such a mass of outworn conventions 
has our daily commentary become. An excellent example 
occurred recently concerning the prospect of Protestant- 
ism and Catholicism. The editor of the Express, a 
literary man of deserved distinction, summed up the 
matter by saying that he had no prejudice against 
Catholicism or Anglo-Catholicism, that he had every 
respect for them, but that England (evidently including 
himself) was solidly Protestant. This is a very neat and 
convenient statement of the exact opposite of the truth. 
I have most friendly feelings to the gentleman in question ; 
and it is without the least animosity to him that I say 
that what is sincere and alive and active in him is Anti- 
Catholicism and nothing else. What is really working 
in the world to-day is Anti-Catholicism and nothing else. 
It certainly is not Protestantism ; not half so much as it 
is Pelagianism. And if the religion of modern England 
is to be called Protestant, there is at least one other 
adjective which cannot conceivably be applied to it. 
Whatever else it is, it is not solid Protestantism. There 
might perhaps be a case for calling it liquid Protestantism. 
Now this marks the chief change of the century we 
celebrate. The political circumstances of the final Tory 
surrender to Emancipation were, of course, complex. 
Emancipation seemed to some a sort of mongrel and 



monster, produced by two opposites ; the survival of 
the Old Religion and the principles of the French Revolu- 
tion. But in such things there are complex harmonies 
as well as contradictions. In some ways the ultimate 
quarrel of Rome with the French Revolution was rather 
like the recent quarrel of Rome with the French Royalists. 
It was resistance to a pagan extreme ; but there had been 
not a little Catholic sympathy before the thing reached 
that extreme. There had been countless liberal clerics 
in the first movements of the reform ; Pius IX had begun 
by being the reverse of reactionary ; and the atmosphere 
was such that the gigantic protagonist of Catholic 
Emancipation himself, the great Daniel O'Connell, 
could combine passionate Ultra-Montanism with the 
largest political Liberalism without any division in the 
simpHcity of his mind or the general humanity of his 
ideals. Those who hated him both as a Radical and a 
Roman Catholic would have seen no inconsistency in 
those two hateful things. The truth to seize about all 
that earlier situation is that the bigotry was on the other 
side ; in one sense the theology was on the other side. 
We cannot see it clearly in the statesmen ; for they were 
either free-thinkers or opportunists. Wellington met 
ills Waterloo ; but he was a good soldier and, therefore, 
retreated when it was futile to stand. But if we look at 
the mass of the people, we find a real religious resistance 
— because there was a real religion. That resistance is 
now only found in America, where just such a Democrat 
as Daniel O'Connell is still threatened with political 
exclusion solely for being a Catholic. In some points the 
Americans are a hundred years behind the times. 

But this sort of purely political exclusiveness will not 
be the chief problem of the future. Whatever be the 
relation of Rome to the new world, her authority will 
not be transferred to Dayton, Tennessee. The political 



effects of the political emancipation are relatively simple 
and in a sense the easiest part of the speculation. Every- 
body knows that Catholic Emancipation has never led, 
and never ' will lead, to the direct political disasters 
that some foretold. The Duke of Norfolk was never 
actually caught in the act of imitating Guy Fawkes ; and 
Lord Russell of KiUowen seldom if ever invited a 
Spanish Armada to these shores. Outside certain local 
Puritan fevers, chiefly in America, there is no reason to 
suppose that the world will be so unreasonable as to 
repent having elected Catholic Mayors or sent out 
Catholic Ambassadors. The cant about a foreign 
allegiance is still heard ; but that is because a cant can 
long outlive a cause. Men who are wide awake are 
well aware that the Catholic internationalism, which bids 
men respect their national governments, is considerably 
less dangerous than the financial internationaUsm which 
may make a man betray his country or the revolutionary 
internationalism which may make him destroy it. It is, 
of course, possible that, under the pressure of Catholic 
conversions, the world may return to older and rougher 
types of persecution ; but it is not immediately probable. 
But when we turn from the political to the spiritual 
prospect, we find a change which is exactly represented 
by the reversal of the journalistic maxim mentioned 
above. We must realise what England has become, 
under all titles and terminology, if we would make a 
guess about what she is next destined to be. 

If we want to measure the distance between the 
date we celebrate and the day in which we live, between 
Catholic Emancipation and its consequences after a 
century, we shall find the newspaper quotation very 
important. If we wanted to describe the conditions a 
hundred years ago in this country, we could not do it 
better than by saying that then England was solidly 



Protestant ; or the Protestantism of England was solid. 
And we shall still better understand the modern change 
if we ask what is meant by that solidity. It had a very 
definite meaning, which has now so completely dis- 
appeared that even those who most frequently invoke it 
are least able to imagine it. There is nothing like that 
sort of solid confidence to-day. It meant this : that the 
types and ranks of society really and sincerely interested 
in religion did really and sincerely believe that Protestant 
religion had been proved superior to Catholic religion. 
It was strongest in the middle class, especially the 
wealthier middle class ; but that middle class had been 
steadily growing stronger and wealthier, as was natural 
in a specially mercantile and capitalist community. It 
covered a multitude of healthy, hard-headed and even 
clear-headed professional and commercial men ; I say 
** even clear-headed " because, though the English had 
the name of not being logical, they were far more logical 
in those days than they are now. If they sat longer over 
their wine, they argued longer over their politics ; they 
did not live on hurried cocktails and hurried headlines. 
Their mercantile politics might be narrow ; but the 
number of them who could expound some connected 
thesis, such as Free Trade, was very large. And as their 
politics consisted of certain definite theories, right or 
wrong, so their religion consisted of certain definite 
doctrines, true or false. If you had asked any such 
Protestant why he was a Protestant, or what he meant by 
being a Protestant, he would have instantly stated or 
explained those doctrines ; just as a Free Trader would 
explain Free Trade. There were Englishmen, of course, 
for whom the whole business was vaguer or more indif- 
ferent ; but they did not make the tone of that solid 
mercantile England. The populace made the Pope a guy, 
just as they made Guy Fawkes a guy ; but the poor were 



at the best treated like children and left, like children, 
to make a guy or a game of anything. A great part of 
the higher aristocracy had been quite sceptical and pagan 
throughout the eighteenth century, or even from the 
seventeenth century ; but the same tact and informal 
secrecy, which keeps such a class together, kept it from 
any public insult to the Protestant religion of England. 
And that reHgion was a religion ; it was Protestant, and 
it was national ; that is, it was the religion of the normal 

Now if you had asked an educated English Protes- 
tant in 1828 why Protestantism was right, or why 
Popery was wrong, he would not have had the smallest 
difficulty in answering. Of course the first thing to be 
emphasised would have been what has since been the 
first thing to be doubted or denied. It was the literal 
inspiration and inerrancy of the Hebrew Scriptures, and 
sometimes even of the English translation of those 
Scriptures. It was the view that still lingers in provincial 
corners and is called Fundamentalism. 

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, practically 
all Protestantism was FundamentaUsm. But it is a great 
mistake to suppose that the true Protestant of history 
had nothing better to do for men than to throw a Bible 
at their heads. What he valued was the theological 
Scheme of Salvation supposed to be set forth in that 
work ; as the Free Trader valued Adam Smith as the 
instrument of a theory. Of that theological theory there 
were two main versions ; one, universal in Scotland and 
very prevalent in England, that God chose some to 
receive the benefits of redemption and rejected others 
even in the act of creating them ; the other, that men 
could accept God but only by accepting this theological 
scheme of salvation, and that their good works had no 
effect on the result. This was the great doctrine of 



Faith independent of Works, which was so universally 
recognised as the chief mark and test of Protestantism 
that we might almost say that it was the whole of 
Protestantism, except indeed where Protestantism took 
the very fiercest form of Calvinism. It is not a question 
of making points against Protestantism ; this was the 
chief point that could be made for Protestantism. It 
was especially the popular point ; the most persuasive 
point ; the most sympathetic point. From this idea of 
instantaneous individualist acceptance of the Atonement, 
by a pure act of faith, came the whole system of appeals 
on which this form of Christianity relied. That was 
why it was so easy, so personal, so emotional ; that was 
why the ivhole of Christian's burden fell off at the foot of 
the Cross. There were no degrees of sin or details of 
penance ; because works were not in question at all. 
That is why ^"hey needed no Confessor or Sacrament of 
Penance ; because there was nothing they could do to 
diminish sins either hopeless or already abolished or 
ignored. That was why it was wicked to pray for the 
dead ; for the dead could not be anything but instantly 
beatified by dogmatic faith alone, or lost for lack of it. 
That was why there could be no progress or further 
enlightenment in the life to come ; or in other words no 
Purgatory. And that was what was meant by being a 
Protestant ; disapproving of prayers for the dead ; dis- 
approving of progress after death ; disapproving of any 
religion that relied on good works. That was the great 
Protestant religion of Western Europe, of which we 
would speak as respectfully as we would of the virility 
and equality of Islam ; and a hundred years ago it was 
normal and national. It was, in the newspaper phrase, 

To-day, as a national and normal thing, it has 
utterly vanished. Not one man in twenty really dis- 



approves of praying for the dead. The War, in killing 
many million men, killed that one pedantry and perversity. 
Not one man in twenty is either a Calvinist or an up- 
holder of Faith against Works. Not one man in twenty 
thinks he will go to hell if he does not instantly accept 
the theological theory of redemption ; perhaps it would 
be better if he did. Not one man in twenty believes the 
Bible infallible, as real Protestants believed it infallible. 
Of all that wonderful system of religious thought, 
thundered against Rome in so many sermons, argued 
against Rome in so many pamphlets, thrown out scorn- 
fully against Rome in so many Exeter Hall meetings and 
Parliamentary debates, nothing remains. Of all that, as 
it affects the forward movement of the educated classes, 
and the future of the world, nothing remains. 

But there is something that remains. Anti-Catholi- 
cism remains ; though it is no longer Protestantism, 
any more than it is Albigensianism or Donatism. And 
that is the factor we must grasp and estimate, if we are 
to estimate the outlook to-day. Protestantism is now 
only a name ; but it is a name that can be used to cover 
any or every ism except Catholicism. It is now a vessel 
or receptacle into which can be poured all the thousand 
things that for a thousand reasons react against Rome ; 
but it can only be full of these things because it is now 
hollow ; because it is itself empty. Every sort of 
negation, every sort of new religion, every sort of moral 
revolt or intellectual irritation, that can make a man 
resist the claim of the Catholic Faith, is here gathered 
into a heap and covered with a convenient but quite 
antiquated label. When the journalists say that there is 
solid Protestantism, all they mean is that there is a pretty 
heavy reluctance or resistance in the matter of any return 
of the English to their ancient religion ; and this, up to a 
point, may be quite true. But the heap is a hotchpotch ; 



the resistance is not a rational resistance, in the sense 
of having a clear and commonly accepted reason; and 
in so far as it has a prevailing colour it is quite the 
contrary colour to that which prevailed in Protestantism. 
It is even more against Calvinism than against Catholi- 
cism ; it is even more insistent on works than were the 
Catholics ; it would make a future life far less final and 
more purely progressive than did the Catholic doctrine 
of Purgatory ; it would make the Bible far less important 
than it is to a Catholic. On every single point on which 
the Protestant attacked the Pope, he would now say 
that the modern spirit was a mere exaggeration of the 
Popish errors. In so far as there is such a vague modern 
spirit, common to all these things, a spirit that may be 
called either liberality or laxity, it never was at any time 
the spirit of Protestantism. It came from the Revolution 
and the Romantic Movement, indirectly perhaps from 
the Renaissance of men like Rabelais and Montaigne ; 
and ultimately much more from men like More and 
Erasmus than from men like Calvin and Knox. When 
the Protestant orators in the present crisis repeat rather 
monotonously, " We will not lose the freedom we gained 
four hundred years ago," they show how little they share 
the religion wliich they defend. Men gained no freedom 
four hundred years ago ; there was no particular freedom 
about creating the Scottish Sabbath or preacliing nothing 
but Predestination or even yielding to the Tudor Terror 
or the Cromwellian Terror. Bu t it is arguable that they 
gained freedom a hundred years ago, as Catholics gained 
it a hundred years ago. It is tenable that such freedom 
was the expanding effect of the American and French 
Revolutions and the democratic idealism which came with 
the nineteenth century and seems in some danger of 
declining with the twentieth. Above all, it is arguable 
that they have a certain kind of freedom non> ; not because 



they are Protestants, for they are not ; but because they 
are anything they Hke and nothing if they like that better ; 
because they are theists, theosopliists, materiaUsts, 
monists or mystics on their own. How much such 
freedom is worth, or how much chance it has of bearing 
any fruit in anything positive or creative, is another 
matter ; but in order to anticipate the next phase, it is 
necessary to reaHse that this phase is one of negative 
liberty, not to say anarchy. Whatever it is, it is not 
Protestantism ; and whatever it is, it is not solid. 

This is the truth symboHsed in the remark on the 
Prayer-Book Debate : that a crowd of Free-Thinkers and 
Nonconformists and people of any opinions dictated 
the affairs of the Church of England. I am very proud 
of the fact that CathoHcs abstained from doing so and 
avoided a very obvious piece of bad taste. But the fact 
itself contains fine shades that have hardly been noticed. 
It is not sufficiently reaHsed that even a congregation at 
the City Temple, or a crowd come to hear a Dean or 
Canon in St. Paul's Cathedral, is often, in fact, almost 
as mixed and dubious in religion as the members of the 
House of Commons. Many Nonconformists are not 
conforming to Nonconformity ; and a churchman often 
means only a man who never goes to chapel. Such 
differences exist in the same sect or even in the same man. 
If we would grasp the modern problem, we must simply 
take at random some fairly typical Englishman and note 
how little he really is anything. He has, let us say, been 
brought up a Congregationahst and drifted away ; he is 
by normal and rather negative habit an AngHcan ; he 
has become by unanswered doubts and vague popular 
science an Agnostic ; he has often wondered if there is 
anything in being a Theo sophist ; he has attended one 
or two seances and might be persuaded to be a SpirituaHst. 
That is the man we have got to deal with ; and not some 



rigid Protestant labelled Methodist or even some rigid 
Atheist labelled MateriaHst. It is that man whom we 
have to set out to convert, after a hundred years of 
relative political liberty have left the old Protestant 
England far behind us and the new Catholic England 
still far away. 

It is only fair to say, of course, that events have 
falsified almost as much the prophecies of those who 
promoted CathoHc Emancipation as of those who 
resisted it. Many Liberals hardly disguised the idea 
that to emancipate Catholicism would be to extmguish 
Catholicism. Many thought they were tolerating a 
dying superstition ; some thought they were kilhng it. 
It is the other superstition that has been killed. But 
there are always new superstitions ; or, to put it more 
moderately, new reUgions. And a general estimate of 
the chances will see them chiefly affected, I think, by the 
presence of these new reUgions side by side with that 
very ancient thing called Agnosticism. The real interest 
of the speculation is in the question of which of the two 
will turn out to be the really formidable opponent of 
the Faith in the future. 

We know what is really meant by saying that the 
Church is merely conservative and the modern world 
progressive. It means that the Church is always con- 
tinuous and the heresies always contradictory. We have 
already noted it in the case of Protestantism ; and the 
men who now completely contradict Protestantism, even 
in order to contradict CathoUcism. But one effect of 
this contrast between continuity and bewildering variety 
is that the Church is generally seen in the Hght of the 
last heresy. The Church is supposed to consist chiefly 
of the things which that heresy happened to disapprove. 
So much of the Protestant tradition still remains that a 
great many people suppose that the chief marks of 



Catholicity are those which stood out as stains in the 
eyes of the last school of critics. Romanism is supposed 
to be made up of Popery and Purgatory and the Confes- 
sional, with the queerest things thrown in, such as 
incense and rosaries and the images of saints. But these 
were often the things most important to Protestants, not 
most important to Catholics ; and not most important 
to the other opponents of Catholics. A Mahommedan 
would not connect Rome with Purgatory, because he 
himself believes in Purgatory ; a Buddhist would not 
connect her with images, because he himself has images ; 
an old pagan would not have been horrified at incense, 
because he used it himself. In the same way the new 
religions will not attack the old religion for the old 
reasons. A Christian Scientist will not assume that all 
stories of miraculous healing must have been frauds. A 
Spiritualist will not assume that all supernatural messages 
received through men must be impossible. It will be 
an entirely new list of charges or challenges that will 
come from the new mystics, who have imitated so many 
of the old marvels. In so far as the new religions become 
the leaders of the opposition, a new class of controversies 
will arise ; with the faith-healers, for instance, upon the 
mystery of matter ; with the psychic investigators upon 
the influences of evil. All this will bring us further and 
further from the special Protestant problems ; and a 
hundred years hence the Church may look to her enemies 
something utterly different from what she looked like a 
hundred years ago. She will look different because she 
will be the same. 

But if no new religion becomes important enough to 
be the main issue, the immediate change will be much 
simpler. The two centuries will probably have com- 
pleted the full transition from Protestantism to Paganism. 
The Church will be facing once more her first and her 



most formidable enemy ; a thing more attractive because 

more human than any of the heresies. This condition 

that can only be called Paganism is not easily defined and 

has often been misrepresented. In one aspect it may be 

called practical materialism without the narrowness of 

theoretical materialism. The Pagan looks for his 

pleasures to the natural forces of this world ; but he 

does not insist so strictly upon dry negations about the 

other ; he has commonly admitted a vague borderland 

of the unknown, providing him with possibilities of 

inspiration or of awe which are forbidden to the cheap, 

modern atheist with his clockwork cosmos. The 

worshippers of the Unknown God could at least build 

an altar, though they could not inscribe it with a name. 

But I fancy that men who have once been Christians, or 

whose fathers have been Christians, will not be long in 

discovering, or rather rediscovering, the profound defect 

that destroyed Paganism and filled centuries with a horror 

of its final phase. The natural forces, when they are 

turned into gods, betray mankind by something that is in 

the very nature of nature-worship. We can already see 

men becoming unhealthy by the worship of health ; 

becoming hateful by the worship of love ; becoming 

paradoxically solemn and overstrained even by the 

idolatry of sport ; and in some cases strangely morbid 

and infected with horrors by the perversion of a just 

sympathy with animals. Unless all these things are 

subject to a more centralised and well-balanced conception 

of the universe, the local god becomes too vivid, we 

might say too visible, and strikes his worshippers with 

madness. The pantheist is always too near to the 

polytheist and the polytheist to the idolator ; the idolator 

to the man offering human sacrifice. There is nothing 

in Paganism to check its own exaggerations ; and for that 

reason the world will probably find again, as it found 



before, the necessity of a universal moral philosophy- 
supported by an authority that can define. In any 
case, that quarrel between Paganism and Catholicism 
will again be one raising issues very unfamiliar to many 
even now ; and issues that would have very much 
mystified the men who debated a hundred years ago the 
issue of Catholic Emancipation. 

In any case, this emergence of new issues will reveal 
more and more one of the advantages of an old religion. 
Whole aspects of Catholic doctrine and tradition, 
hidden by historical accident and the special quarrels of 
recent times, will be revealed to the world when it 
begins to address new questions to the Church. This is 
a point that has not been sufficiently stressed in the 
relations between Protestantism and Catholicism. Very 
often a Protestant was not only a man merely protesting, 
but a man merely protesting against a particular thing. 
He sometimes thought that thing was Rome ; but it was 
really only one of the thousand aspects of Rome. When 
new aspects appear under new searchlights, he will be 
not so much defeated as simply outside the affair. A 
Baptist disapproves of baptising babies ; a Presbyterian 
disapproves of bishops ; a Prohibitionist disapproves of 
beer, and so on. But a Presbyterian, as such, has 
nothing very special to say about the Subconscious 
Mind. A Baptist as such has nothing special to say to 
a Behaviorist as such. But a Catholic may have a great 
deal to say to these people. For the Catholic commentary 
on life has gone on so much longer, it has covered so 
many different social conditions, has dealt so carefully 
with countless fine shades of metaphysics or casuistry, 
that it really has a relation to almost any class of specula- 
tion that may arise. Thus, in the matter of psycho- 
analysis and the study of the subconscious, the Church 
will probably be found sooner or later defending certain 



essentials about Will and Conscience against a welter of 
wild impersonality. Catholics remembering Catholicism 
will have a right and reason to do this. But Calvinists 
who have half forgotten Calvinism have no particular 
reason to do it. 

There is, for instance, one influence that grows 
stronger every day, never mentioned in the newspapers, 
not even intelligible to people in the newspaper frame 
of mind. It is the return of the Thomist Pliilosophy ; 
which is the philosophy of common sense, as compared 
with the paradoxes of Kant and Hegel and the Pragma- 
tists. The Roman religion will be, in the exact sense, the 
only Rationalistic religion. The other religions will not 
be Rationalist but Relativist ; declaring that the reason 
is itself relative and unreliable ; declaring that Being is 
only Becoming or that all time is only a time of transi- 
tion ; saying in mathematics that two and two make five 
in the fixed stars, saying in metaphysics and in morals 
that there is a good beyond good and evil. Instead of 
the materialist who said that the soul did not exist, we 
shall have the new mystic who says that the body does 
not exist. Amid all these things the return of the 
Scholastic will simply be the return of the sane man. 
There will perhaps be belated and benighted modernists, 
lingering from the nineteenth century, who will repeat 
the jaded journalistic catchword that the Schoolman only 
cared to ask how many angels could stand on the point 
of a needle. But it will be difficult to make even that 
fancy appear very fantastic, in a world where men deny 
that it hurts a man to stick the point of the needle in his 
leg. If there are angels, they have presumably some 
intellectual relation to place and space ; and if there are 
no angels, there are still men and presumably sane men. 
But to say that there is no pain, or no matter, or no evil, 
or no difference between man and beast, or indeed 



between anytiiing and anything else — this is a desperate 
effort to destroy all experience and sense of reality ; and 
men will weary of it more and more, when it has ceased 
to be the latest fashion ; and will look once more for 
something that will give form to such a chaos and keep 
the proportions of the mind of man. Millions of men 
are already at least wondering whether this solution is 
not to be found in the Catholic order and philosophy. 
Above all, the Church has regained that unique position 
in the world in a fair field and under the very reverse 
of favour ; having had for a hundred years no more 
than the common right of speaking and publishing and 
voting in popular assemblies ; and as her Master affirmed 
his divinity by becoming a man among men, she has 
become for a season a sect among sects, to emerge at the 
end as something separate or supreme. 


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